By JOHN CARLO TRIA | RESURGENT.PH
With 42,000 Barangays each having about 8 elected officials, the total “army” of elected local officials delivering critical services to communities, 336,000 directly accountable persons should have no problem delivering critical supplies to residents and monitoring those infected, and recovering from the coronavirus.
We all know how responsive and friendly they can be, and how they are the first line of governance, and the last line of governance in most cases. They are most in touch with community life and, ideally along with the purok leaders, would know the residents by name.
Yet recent examples of unreasonable checkpoints, particularly in Calamba, Laguna where they tried to stop a train of the Philippine National Railways yesterday, this capability was cast in some doubt. Charges will undoubtedly be filed against these Barangay officials for hampering the operations of a government.
The truth of the matter is that the national government has already allocated unprecedented 275 billion pesos and is getting ready to apply an additional 1.17 trillion or so pesos as part of the bounce back plan in the COVID 19 fight. There is also 31 B in additional fund for the Department of Agriculture which involves loans for farmers and the palay buying program.
Specifically, the government will provide some 3.4 million employees in small businesses a wage subsidy of P5,000 to 8,000 per eligible worker affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and other parts of the country that is currently being implemented to contain the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease.
Unlike in previous disasters, the government’s decision to name the amounts to be given to each beneficiary ensures that the beneficiaries can demand the full value on receipt of specific amounts in cash. This is critical given that the main implementation will be conducted at the barangay level to prevent mass gatherings and long lines common in relief goods distribution, rather than benefits in kind which may be difficult to audit or account for similar to what happened in Typhoon Yolanda.
That said, the Barangay is the main arm of government that we will need to focus on. How these elected leaders will deliver the programs needed, in identifying worthy recipients and ensuring the prompt delivery will be critical.
(This article, The Battle is at the Barangay, by John Carlo Tria, first appeared at RESURGENT.PH on April 14, 2020)