The Society of Honor: the Philippines

Community-based progress: the barangay rules

Barangay Hall, San Miguel, Lubao, Pampanga [Photo source: zamboanga.com]

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By Karl Garcia

“The Philippines is a collection of tribes, of barangays  and municipalities ruled by families. This is where the government meets the people. There may be presidents and there may be oligarchs and there may be stuffed-shirt senators, but at the most basic level, the barangays rule the Philippines, and the families rule the barangays. This article identifies several ways the barangays can lead the nation to be a better place.

JoeAm

In the most recent presidential debates, a part was about the community, mainly about health care. On the macro level, peace and order and education issues were also tackled.

I will focus on the community level in this write-up to discuss Justice, the Environment, Community Policing, Community Doctors and Community Schools. Then I’ll propose some action steps for the national agenda.

Justice

I have long proposed that many disputes can be settled in the barangay and not have to reach the court. The Supreme Court’s “Justice on Wheels” program also tries to reduce all the court backlogs, and most cases just settle, if not monetary amicable settlement, just amicably so it would be all over.

We have jail cells full of minors and even without the minors they are still jam packed like sardines. I won’t touch on our maximum security prison full of jail house rockers; maybe later. I suggest more Boys and Girls Towns, and it is about time to charge the parents when they fail in their responsibilities. Children sniffing solvent, children throwing rocks at wind shields, children jumping on roofs of jeepneys.

Something has to be done.

One solution is community service instead of jail time.

I can see that this is already done. These programs can clean up our dirty streets and esteros, and some are dealing with our reforestation requirements. You don’t have to commit a crime to do community service. Some fraternities and sororities are planting trees. Of course our NGOs are doing the same.

Crime in our country is hard to solve, but these measures can contribute much, not only on petty crime, but environmental and community problems as well.

Environment

Since I mentioned environment might as well go on with my issues.

Our laws do not allow any incineration.

What does our dear Environmentalist senator propose to do with our garbage dumps? Recycle everything? Man, in our house we have trash that is decades old. That may be a bit exaggerated, but sooner or later when you do a general cleaning, you throw stuff away. What if everyone went zero waste, that would make us hoarders, not recyclers.

Same with the macro situation, you reuse, re-purpose or simply recycle, and, in the end, you throw it out. You’ve got to allow at least for plasma gasification. Recycling and re-purposing is already being done. Kudos to Envirotech and Integrated Recycling Industries Philippines Inc.

Community Policing

Here are excerpts from an Inquirer article:

PH law enforcers look at UK model for Bangsamoro police

Offenders as Customers

But more than the facilities, it was the police mindset here that impressed the group.

The British police consider offenders “customers” to be treated with respect, according to Insp. Paul Roberts, who took the Philippine group on a tour of the detention center.

This philosophy was evident in the physical setup of the station, which had a reception desk you would mistake for that of a corporate office rather than a jail facility. The only thing that gave away the purpose of the place was a circular platform behind the reception desk with security cameras showing each detention suite.

Knowing the community

From police officers teaching subjects like substance abuse in primary schools, installing safety devices on houses and properties, organizing summer camps for restless kids, rehabilitating the community’s “Top 20” troublemakers or tracking lost horses, the North Wales police showed that knowing your community was key to an effective and trusted police force.

The Philippine group, composed of police and military officials, toured the headquarters in Colwyn Bay, Wrexham, Flintshire, Mold and Deeside, and joined foot patrols to see the North Wales police in action. The tour included a visit to the Airbus plant in Broughton to see how a single police officer contributes to peacekeeping in the giant aircraft wing factory.

They also visited a massive central command in Wrexham, where emergency calls are received and where various parts and establishments are monitored by high-definition security cameras. Here, the Philippine group saw how a duty officer can control the CCTV cameras to focus on a street, an establishment or a person of interest. Shops have radios to alert the police about shoplifting, riots or other untoward incidents. From the control room, the police can track down the offenders and make arrests.

Another showcase was Caia Park in the same town, an impoverished community previously torn by racial tensions and crime but has now been transformed into a model community, and where the police perform not only law enforcement but also social work.

The group met with the North Wales police head, Chief Constable Mark Polin, and Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick, the elected overseer of the force.

With a 1,500-strong force and 250 police community support officers (PCSOs), the North Wales police serves an area slightly bigger than Brunei, with a population of around 687,000 (2011 census).

Winston Roddick, the first-ever elected police and crime commissioner for North Wales, has this message to the Philippine police: consulting the people is essential.

“You’ve got to keep in touch with the community. Once you’ve set it up and you’ve built the bridge, you have to cross that bridge regularly in order to maintain the relationship,” Roddick told members of a Philippine technical working group looking for a model for policing in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region.

My Comments:

The Police are looking for a model to emulate for the eventual Bangsa Moro Police.

While learning from that model, they learned community policing. I suggest that community policing be installed nationally. Since we are composed of barangays, this model would suit us perfectly.

Community Doctors

An excerpt from article in bulatlat.com:

Our country is in dire need of doctors for the people. The starkest indicator of this dilemma is the state of community medicine practice in the country and likewise the dwindling number of community physicians.

According to the National Institute of Health, there have been more than 9, 000 physicians who have left the country as nurses between 2002 to 2005. Likewise, the Health Alliance for Democracy said around 80 percent of public health physicians have taken up or are enrolled in nursing. This year, it said, 90 percent of municipal health officers (MHOs) are taking up nursing and are expected to leave the country. The number of obstetricians and anesthesiologists are also fast depleting, followed by pediatricians and surgeons.

In the future, the best practices in community medicine should be documented and a strong system of supportive mechanisms for community medicine practitioners both in the public and private sectors should be developed.

“The health of the poor is a cardinal indicator of the state of people’s health,” Velmonte says. Among the resolutions passed was the formation of a community physicians’ organization to advance the discipline not only in the academe and medical community but also to gain ground in the promotion of health and development for the marginalized sectors of society.”

My Comments:

The priority of medical and nursing school graduates is to go to big hospitals, private practice or overseas. There are only a few or even no medical staff left for the barrios.

There must be ways to have doctors for the barrios, and a doctor who came from that barrio would be preferred.

Community Education.

The Community School and Its Relevance to the Present Times

Abstract

The community school, pioneered among others by Dr. Jose V. Aguilar, a superintendent of schools in Iloilo and later Dean of the U.P. College of Education, is distinguished by elementary schoolchildren tilling little plots of land in front of their countryside schools. The concept left a deep mark on Philippine education, and should become a historical concern of educators, especially in its use for the present times. For the community school did not only mean getting schoolchildren to learn the farming skills of their parents; it also meant a three-way partnership between teachers, parents, and community in the insurance of a practical education both for the nation’s children, and the nation’s adults as well, using the vernacular as medium of instruction. Can the community school concept be used at present to solve the problems of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, taking into account the possibility that the movement that spawned it was a potentially subversive pursuit?

My Comments:

The rural communities outnumber the urban ones. The above case study is for agricultural communities. But we know from anecdotes that children cross rivers and mountains just to reach the only school nearest to their home. There are few busing programs. Some kids get tired and quit school.

Some are war torn. How can they continue schooling? They are joining the rebels.

Action Steps

We now move on to the national policies, programs and legislation I hope would finally come to fruition. Here’s what I wish would happen terms of policies and legislation. Some I already mentioned and will just summarize.

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Reference sources are itemized in detail in the following preliminary articles at Irineo Salazar’s blog: