The Barangay: solution or problem

Zamboanga City, Lunzuran Barangay Hall [Photo from zamboanga.com]

By JoeAm

We’ve had numerous discussions here at the blog about the barangay system and whether it works to good advantage or not. The general consensus is that it is ‘troubled’, to be kind, but that there are some aspects that are valuable.

Although I don’t want to get tedious about all the rules, because they are ominous, it is important to get the particulars out in a short-form, layman’s synopsis. That gets us all on the same page.

The barangay concept

The barangay is a “little government” with an executive branch, legislature, and judicial function. It is patterned after most governments with executive (captain and council) running things (health care, water systems, etc.), legislature developing new rules and monitoring old ones, and a judicial system that seeks to resolve small, localized conflicts without going to the regional courts.

Barangays are well funded through a share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (about 20% of the IRA goes to barangays) allocated by National to cities and municipalities. They also receive share of certain taxes and fees raised locally, and directly assess some fees (water service, etc.). An annual budget for a typical barangay might be in the range of P2 million to P4 million pesos per year.

Expenditures are for staff (captain at least P1,000 per month and other officials P600) plus certain insurance, hospitalization and tuition benefits, plus all the other work done to keep the community clean, orderly, and with basic water, health, and legal services. Plus fiestas. [Compensation and Benefits of Barangay Officials]

The barangay captain is the power person locally. He enforces laws, negotiates contracts, maintains public order, chairs the council, appoints staff, organizes emergency activities, plans the budget and approves spending, handles pollution control, administers the judicial function, ensures delivery of mandated services, conducts the annual fiesta, and promotes the general welfare of the community.[THINGS YOU NEED to KNOW: BARANGAYS and its OFFICIALS]

The barangay assembly is all the citizens of the community. They are occasionally called to a meeting to coordinate events, provide guidance, or receive guidance.

The judicial function is one of conciliation, whereby the captain applies his neutral position to the resolution of cases and, if necessary, works with the barangay court (10 to 20 local residents) to form small panels to deal with troublesome issues. Major conflicts (requiring imprisonment of more than one year or a fine more than P5,000) go directly to the municipal court. So do cases involving residents of more than one barangay.

The judicial function is tediously detailed. It takes a lawyer to understand them. Unfortunately, most barangay officials have no such background. [GUIDELINES ON THE KATARUNGANG PAMBARANGAY CONCILIATION PROCEDURE ]; [THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, BOOK III, LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS, TITLE ONE. – THE BARANGAY]

Problems, Importance, and Opportunities

There are two main problems with the barangay system. I’ll call them (1) political opportunism, and (2) incompetence.

Political opportunism arises from the reality that a city or municipality is a captured political system. Everyone knows how their bread gets buttered. The mayor demands and gets loyalty from the barangay captains. If the mayor is pro-Marcos, the barangay captains are pro-Marcos, and local residents are persuaded to back Marcos. Likewise, within the barangay, the captain is politically powerful and can take care of friends well and enemies badly. He decides where money is spent, as well.

Incompetence arises because the captain, council members, and other staff are often not professionals. They may be farmers or unemployed or housewives, not attorneys, not business managers. So things don’t get done or get done poorly.

I love the hammer-to the head assessment by Sara Soliven De Guzman who wrote about the real-world situation in Barangay 101 [PhilStar, 2013]:

Okay, hold your horses and don’t get sensitive. Of course there are exceptions here. First, those running [in elections] seemingly have had no stable career in their lives. Some are certified bums. Some have dropped out of school. Some are too lazy to keep an 8-5 job. Some may even be drunkards, gamblers, drug addicts or small town ‘bullies’. Some are merely spoiled rotten brats looking for something to do. Second, some changed careers thinking there is more money in politics (they are probably right since many suddenly become rich).

The three most important benefits that make the barangay valuable are:

  1. Effective, on-the ground coordination for emergencies or special activities.
  2. Rudimentary health and legal care for residents at no cost or low cost.
  3. Oversight of basic services such as water delivery.

Well, alas, incompetence is cumulative so water systems are glued together haphazardly, there may or may not be metering, and people today get their information from social media or texting rather than community meetings. Essentially the old “word of mouth” value has become less important. It is hard to tell whether money spent by a barangay is “highest and best use”. No one is really watching that carefully.

An exhaustive study  of the barangay system was done in 2010 by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. [Do Barangays Really Matter in Local Services Delivery? Some Issues and Policy Options]. Here are some excerpts from the conclusions:

Decentralization has been in existence for almost two decades in the Philippines. Yet, barangays mostly in the rural areas are still stuck into the quagmire of incompetence and inefficiency, unable to deliver better basic services, if at all, and being complacent on the status quo because of policy, institutional, financial binding constraints undergirded by political, economic, social, and cultural factors. Unless and until barangays perform better in the provision of basic services, decentralization defeats its very purpose – . . .

The policy interventions or options proposed in this paper, i.e. higher LGUs taking responsibility for services barangays cannot deliver, making a paradigm shift in understanding and practicing economic development, and getting incentives right for fiscal governance and economic advancement, may take a while before they could impact as intended. For the process of change is incremental, that is, it does not happen overnight, and that the agents of change (local elites, barangay officials, local communities) have to be convinced  . . .

The study concludes that, given a choice between struggling to deliver basic services and being a part of a self-sufficient, capable influence in making people’s lives better, barangays would choose the latter if they are to really matter in local service delivery.

Sara Soliven De Guzman puts it as follows:

If positive changes can be achieved in the barangay level, changes in the national level will surely come easy. But the problem is that we cannot effect change in the barangay because some of the leaders are dummies of top local officials who have taken great pains in ensuring that their power extends down to this level. So how can you expect puppets to walk or talk when they are controlled by their masters? Yes, if the Barangay Chairman is too weak to know what is right for his community, he will allow his mayor or city officials to influence him. This is where the problem begins, all leading to poor and inefficient public service.

Catch 22.

No city or barangay official wants to cut himself and friends off from the gravy train.

 

Comments
97 Responses to “The Barangay: solution or problem”
  1. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. I must admit to an ethnocentric bias, my ethnocentrism based on Western individualism.

    2. Of the three most important benefits of the barangay, my reactions are:

    2.1. Emergency or special activities.

    2.1.1. Emergency activities can be managed officially and effectively at the municipal level. Unlike before, there are instant levels of telecommunication in messaging; better roads and, consequently, rapid response with transportation to emergencies with police, fire and typhoon services.

    2.1.2. Special activities, like fiestas, should be celebrated at, and coordinated with barrios (not barangays) from, the municipal level. It is debatable whether fiestas, which is a religious celebration, should be organized by the government. Local celebrations should be secular in nature to commemorate a town’s founding and not to memorialize a patron saint. This violates the separation principle.

    2.2. Health and legal care.

    2.2.1. Health care should be primarily managed by private medical clinics that are better staffed and equipped. Some care may be extended at the municipal hall and in schools. As in Australia, health care is subsidized by the government. The subsidy extends to doctor consultation fees, laboratory fees, some prescription medicines, dental treatment, and some surgery. Regional hospitals should be planned and set up.

    2.2.2. Legal care should not be carried out by non-professionals. For peace and order situations, citizen groups, like Neighborhood Watch, can be established. Rapid response to neighborhood squabbles is now possible as per item 2.1.1. The idea of traveling circuit courts should be considered and revived to bring justice to the people. Neighbors should be taught to live in harmony with one another; if you provide external dispute resolution, how will they learn?

    2.3. Oversight of basic services.

    2.3.1. Basic services, such as water, sewerage, street lighting, electricity, telecommunications should always be planned at a higher level. The small-mindedness of Filipinos is exhibited here. And it is exhibited in messes like Boracay. In most countries, basic services are privatized and those services maintained by the government, such as sewerage and garbage collection, attract municipal fees.

    3. As I have pointed out before, it is the issue of political opportunism that stands out for me. The barangay was a construct invented – beneficially — to organize citizens. It was revived – malignantly — by a dictator to control citizens and to gather grassroots support for his self-aggrandizing policies. And it is now being used for the same purposes if not for more malefic ones…like populating drug addict lists

    4. Freedom from the government is of greater value than any benefits the barangay can deliver. But the construct has been institutionalized in concrete edifices and in the minds of a captive citizenry. If one provides the functionality of the barangay, independence is lost and dependence naturally follows.
    *****

    • 2.1.2 One of the surprises I found was that the annual fiesta celebration is mandated by law at the barangay level. They are generally unifying and I’ve not noticed any religious overtones. More historical and tribal, or simply good fun.

      2.2.1 Health care is a huge problem. In the outlying provinces, one is inclined to avoid the hospital because it is the place where people go to die. Short of being on their death bed, they take care of their health with such pills as may be dispensed by the local doctors, or home remedies and potions as may be passed down by lore, or enduring the pain. The barangay services could be useful for dispensing emergency care (broken bones) or condoms, and guiding impending mothers as to how to get their babies delivered in a way that suits their wallet and pain threshold.

      2.3.1 Yes, basic services such as water and legal should be handled at the community level rather than barangay. Dispute resolution ought to be extra-legal, just the captain trying to get people to calm down and move on.

      4. Freedom from the government is an interesting concept. As I will write about Friday, freedom here is not considered as liberating, but finding one’s comfort zone in the line of authority. Freedom from government is hard to achieve in an authoritarian society.

      • NHerrera says:

        We are off to a good start here on the barangay topic with the article and the first two comments. Thanks.

      • Francis says:

        2.1.2.

        Is interesting. While “fiestas” may not seem directly important at first glance, it still is crucial to note that they build community.

        Actually (if I assume things correctly) the Barangay Captain’s role is pretty personal—in that he’s probably the first local assistance that people turn towards for assistance, the guy who mediates between disputes, the guy who handles the “ground level” politics in the gray space between family and society—community.

        I’m thinking aloud but…would this be a better approach: barangay captain would be better a more ceremonial “problem-solving” guy. Like don’t expect stuff like some fancy policy plans or platforms like what you would expect at elected executives like mayors and higher—just a guy who has enough budget and resources to keep the community together with some intimate gestures (i.e. fiestas, management of “small” disputes, taking care of the “problem” children/folks) but is not a bureaucrat: rather, if a problem is such that higher-ups are required, he/she is expected to be a “first responder” to direct you to those more professional agencies/etc.

        Because I think that there will always be a need for a “wise elder” sort of guy to represent the community/take care of people’s problems personally in any society—but expecting barangay captains (and barangays) to be Mini Mayors (with Mini Cities) is probably a bit too much..?

        • Francis says:

          Addendum:

          Pardon. I think I am just repeating points made by others hahahaha

        • Yes, I agree with your approach. Maybe a little more hands on than ceremonial, but respected elder, or “chief”, which is much as they perform today, in real world terms. Given the regular natural disasters and frequency of local spats, they are an excellent place where people interface directly with government. I was once threatened by a drunk with a gun who fired a shot at the ground as he snarled at me. My crime, as near as I can tell, is that I had more money than most and was white. The Chief Tanod walked directly up to him, put his arm around him with some friendly words, took the gun away, and walked him back to his house. The guy was evicted from the barangay the next day. No trials, no police reports, just common sense.

    • Tweeto Wakatono says:

      IN EVERY COUNTRY in the free world (don’t know much about the hammer and sickle world) there is a unique framework for post cavemen and post modernization GOVERNANCE of communities larger than clans and bigger than tribes. BARRIOS, sitios, villages, favelas, counties, wards, etc. They seemed to be functional in cultures SANS ENDEMIC corruption like in Canada, Australia and the USA. But very VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL (ultimately) where higher levels of governance are EXTREMELY CORRUPT. TSoHchers from GERUSCANAU (four countries) should share with their brethren in TSoH the features upon which the Barangay can derive benefits.

      The Kibbutz of Israel could be a segment model for micro-governance.

      • Tweeto Wakatono says:

        Very few people outside Philippine academia knows that the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance STARTED modestly as a Local Administration Program funded by US taxpayers.

        http://ncpag.upd.edu.ph/

        A sub unit of UP NCPAG is the Local Government Center, which should now be the richest granary of accumulated knowledge in Phil local communities governance, in a US funded LADP (Local Administration Development Program) gave me the chance to watch Lady Mayors from parts of the country joined and dance with local girls, the Igorot dance in an ITOGON Barangay Hall. Itogon recently joined the archives of tragedies in the Philippines unleashed by nature against the struggling poor.

        Sorry for the yabang again, Itogon’s been part of my experience whence which I noticed and learned that Filipinas– those adorable MAHINHINS– have begun populating the mayorships of towns and cities. Soon they will be Lady Governors.

        • Tweeto Wakatono says:

          We, concerned faculty members, staff, students and alumni of the National College of Public Administration and Governance and the University of the Philippines strongly condemn and oppose the selective application of the rule of law and the singling out of the opposition to the Duterte Administration. The recent revocation of the amnesty granted to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the order for his arrest are illustrative of the blatant attempt by the Duterte administration to stifle dissent and suppress opposition.

          This is just the latest in an increasingly long list of repulsive acts which not only targeted the opposition but also weakened and disregarded the independence of institutions and the sanctity of the checks and balances among the three branches of government. The latter includes the arrest and incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima on the basis of seemingly trumped-up charges (Legislature), the unseating of Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno based on constitutionally-infirmed grounds (Judiciary), the continuing insults on Vice-President Leni Robredo and other sinister efforts to undermine her position as the legitimate constitutional successor. These acts are dictatorship in progress.

          The revocation and arrest order are also seeming diversionary moves to cover up for, or divert attention away from, the many issues and ‘failures’ of the Duterte administration, among which are:Its inability to stop the alarming rise in the prices of prime commodities and the cost of living The brutal killing of thousands of Filipinos, most of them poor, on mere suspicion and on the say-so that they are drug users and “nanlaban”
          The abuse in the appointment to high government posts of even incompetents and misfits who merely contributed to the presidential campaign Zero corruption as a show of publicly shaming political appointees and then recycling them to less visible but no less lucrative positions in government The erosion of public values through Duterte’s verbal abuse of his many enemies, real or imaginary, as well as his continuing assaults on religion, women, and institutions

          The personal and unilateral foreign policy shift to China, resulting in unwittingly surrendering our territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea

          We therefore enjoin all principled and patriotic Filipinos to oppose this latest act of the Duterte administration and to be continually vigilant against the latter’s intensifying assault on human rights, rule of law and democracy.

          We urge the protection of public institutions and public servants from partisan politics and undue interference so that they can assert their independence, be accountable public servants and not the trolls of the powers-that-be.

          Let us help in restoring the majesty of law and the nullification of the revocation of amnesty of Sen. Trillanes IV. We urge all Filipinos to rally behind our crusade for good governance.
          We also commend the Senate of the Philippines for maintaining its independence and protecting the dignity of democratic institutions in the country.

          Signatories:
          Members of the Faculty

          http://ncpag.upd.edu.ph/2018/09/no-to-selective-rule-of-law-nullify-the-revocation-of-amnesty-of-senator-antonio-trillanes-iv/

          • Tweeto Wakatono says:

            Sorry to continue the yabang again but my neurons partial to governance was heavily infected by PhD mentors brainwashed and tutored by PhDs from grants achieved in the Universities with names like Harvard, Cornell, UCLA, Southern Ca., Indiana, Pittsburgh, Sussex, Simon Frazer, ,McGill, Queens, etc. etc. guys breathing down the necks of public officials and public servants. I was turned down to study there, but later co-chaired (with an MD prof) the committee that helped create the UP Manila.

            • Tweeto Wakatono says:

              Was it Bertrand Russel who said in effect: the generation gap helps the specie to survive, Geneticists (eg Gregor Johann Mendel) believe that future generations are better than their predecessors and I saw this live like a TV series with succeeding faculty and staff of my two college alma maters. The Hope of the motherland rests not only on the youth but the entire succeeding generations. Dinasours ceased to exist eons ago. Hope and goodness persist to make the corrupt as extinct human specie.

              • Tweeto Wakatono says:

                OOT as digression . .

                Philosophers are turned on their heads by artificial intelligence. It remains to be seen that DRIVERLESS cars are better than electric cars, down the line of hybrid cars, diesel-fed cars, petrol run cars; and the sturdy, dependable Pinoys Cadilakad which is needed in Metropolis Manila this traffic cursed hellish days.

        • popoy says:

          Tweeto aka popoy upstairs . . .

          If I may add, the Local Admin Program became core body and soul of the created UP Graduate School of Public Administration. Local Gurus prevailed and UP College of Public Adm replaced the graduate school to become one of the colleges before UP became a multiversity– the entire UP System.

          There was a time when talks circled in the Diliman Republic that UPCPA should be combined with UPCBA to make a UPCBnPA. Can even geniuses or dictators combine public service (Public Admin) with profit interest (Business Admin) in the business of GOVERNANCE ? I held the view (indeed a myopic view?) then that you cannot businessize governance.

          I thought there was businesszation of government during Marcos time. Just NAME the brains that propped up the civilian side of the Marcos Regime. I could be wrong of course. Many moons had passed the Philippine sky, polluted waters flow and ebb under the many bridges of the gray Pasig. CAN any country really combine public service with the profit motive? The answer I think can be provided by countries like GERUSCANAU.

          Sorry, the Amihan winds of my mind just suddenly turned into Habagat winds.

  2. OOT: Mocha Uson resigned from PCOO. Will she be reassigned? To DFA, maybe? Is she running for Senator?

    • NHerrera says:

      Cayetano needs Uson at DFA like a hole in his head, but if the boss insists …

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        She’s supposed to be requested by DFA often because of her rapport with OFWs. That is why she is always included in overseas travels the president and his cabinet members. I do not think she will completely fade in the background. The administration needs her especially this upcoming election period. She is their main influencer in Facebook.

        • Philstar has her name as a nominee for ACTS-OFW party list at HOR. Probably going to replace that Bertiz guy who seems to have been behaving badly lately.

        • NHerrera says:

          Thanks for that info JP. I am not properly informed concerning the previous use of the OFW great influencer by the DFA.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            You are welcome, Kuya NH.

            RJ Nieto (TP) used to do the OFW bit for DFA until the Senate probe on fake news. I think he quit after the inquiry.

        • Tweeto Wakatono says:

          Ms. JP I won’t say that that is condescending observation of OFWs as I had been with them to hear and cogitate what they really think of their kababayans. Dahil ang Pinoys mahilig makisakay, marami rin silang pinasasakay lang, like Pinoy hospitality syndrome to one and all. Daming NBA, kano at foreign celebrity tulad ni General D. McArthur: I shall return. In the x rated dance of yore even foreign burlisk dancers patok sa sinehan sa may Sta. Cruz.

          Pinoys I supposed and if I may say so have the fewest and thinnest molecules of RACISM in their plasma. Kahit katiting lang hindi ipinakikita ng mga Pinoy ang pagka racist; keh itim o puti, brown o maputla, may amoy o wala, pandak o mataba pinasasakay ng Pinoy na palaging nakangiti HINDI tulad ng mga iba people, daming eche bucheche sa ibang lahi. Pinoys lang ang natutuwa sa mga pangit na mga trying hard komiko. Tama lang seguro ang trato ng mga Pinoy sa mga SHOWBIZ ginagawang senador o kaya prisidenti tapos tinatakatak ng mura kaya naman gumanganti sa foreigners minumura din.

          Kaya naman ang Pinoy OFW kung meron lang survey (na hindi nabibili) baka o tiyak Seguro NAMBER WAN EXPAT saan man magtrabaho.

      • Tweeto Wakatono says:

        certainly some individuals might get well and alive by craniotomy but people believed that’s the surest way of becoming a vegetable. no relevance to cayetano and uson of course.

  3. Juana Pilipinas says:

    The problem is see in the barangays mirror that of the national government: dynasties, corruption, incompetency, cronyism, poverty, ignorance, and much more.

    There was a time in PH when the Capitan del Barrio is an elder who is respected for his/her character and looked at as the wisest person in the community. He/she is a volunteer and the job entails being a mediator, a counselor, a coordinator and the community representative. He is assisted by Tinyentes who supported and assisted the Capitan. Those were the days of bayanihan and everyone seems to get along well in the community.

    I know that now, they are being paid for their services and they have counselors and even tanods. I do not know exactly when they started being paid government workers. Is it during Marcos era or post Marcos era?

  4. karlgarcia says:

    My intend in the blog I submitted before was to highlight the community, namely:
    Community service; Community health, Community policing,etc it just so happened that Joe decided to add barangay since it is all about community.

    It seems that this country is not built for decentralization, because of the Boracay, and Marawi incidents to name a few.

    That makes the Local Government Code another law of good intentions, but poor implementations as any ambitious law we see in the news were comfort, service, well being is just promised in the legislation, but more often than not, there into budget for all of it to be executed or enforced.

    The federalism discussion maybe a sleeping issue that will disrupt us when we have forgotten all about it, If they abolish the baranggay and reduce the regions to three to five then I will listen.

    • NHerrera says:

      In a way, although there are theoretical benefits to the barangay concept, the “atomization” of governance such as in the barangay is like the faulty federalization concept carried to extremes without considering the realities of Philippine culture and politics. May be a sub-barangay to do this, and a sub-barangay to do that is even better?

  5. Ed Maglaque says:

    Re Ed Lores pt.2.2.2, Barangays have a Lupon office which assists the Brgy Kapitan in mediating. disputes between community members. The Law is specific that Lupon members should not be professional lawyers as the aim is to use the cultural values of the barangay as leverage in conflict resolution. This harks back to the ancient practice of using the Elders’ moral ascendancy over the populace as the tool to preserve peace and harmony in the community. It worked well in those days because barrios were intact i.e. families knew each other, there were hardly any strangers or immigrant traffic. And values, importantly, were pretty solid. Today, with brgys fragmented and cultural norms vastly altered, the selection of Lupon members is largely an exercise in political accretion. “Elders” are a rare commodity. Hence the impact originally expected from the institution has been diminished, albeit in varying degrees. The Lupon serves as the internal dispute resolver of the community. By and large, it works. But what it needs is innovation, if community harmony is what Ed Lores seeks. The Lupon should be made to evolve into a village consultative body that may assist the socio-cultural, economic, and political development of the barangay. Then it becomes a proactive, not reactive entity in the service of the people.

    • Very clear statement of things, and how the concept has broken down with greater mobility and distractions of texting and internet. and consistent with what Francis suggested is the need. Thanks for the clarification of the “non-legal” aspect of the Lupon.

  6. ivyemaye says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/nov/27/typhoon-haiyan-views-and-reviews
    I had this published in the Guardian praising the barangays. Apart from the London Mayor local government of all kinds has vanished in the UK. There is no or little local control over schools anymore. What is the situation in the States?
    When I went to a local council election back in the UK, the only other people there were an old lady and a zombie dog.
    My local barangay is good. I was very impressed with the huge turn out for a new Captain at elections here a while ago. The previous Captain was spending the barangay funds in girlie bars, so the locals wanted him out. Like most things here in the Philippines it is crazy crazy. Yes certainly open to abuse. But you do have local government here. Impressed with the barangay police and matters being dealt with locally. There is far too much top down control across the whole world now, the barangay at least holds out for something different.

    • Thanks, ivyemaye. I also see my local barangay as a fundamentally positive unit at the basic level of preparing for storms, dispute resolution, and community togetherness.

    • I second this comment. Returning to the UK after 23 years in Asia of which 16 were in the Philippines, I was astonished to discover how in the UK, so little is done at local level. The ‘barangay’ equivalent, the local councillor, has no spending money and almost no power.

      This has very visible impacts, e.g. there is no equivalent in the UK of local basketball courts. Everything is either privatized, or done by schools, or administered at City level. My son, wanting to play basketball, had to travel for an hour to find a basketball court where he played with people who were not his neighbours and who saw him as an outsider. Unsurprisingly he gave up the sport. OK basketball is not a popular sport in the UK, but it would have been the same with soccer or cricket.

      Spending decisions in UK are almost all at national level, as is most tax collection. City Councils have very limited authority. They agree each type of spending with national government, explaining where their city is, what its needs are, why spending needs to happen. If money is unspent on e.g. road improvements, it must be returned to the national government, it cannot be re-allocated, causing the obvious inefficiencies of last-minute spending.

      The central government has been sucking authority out of the UK’s local governments for over 200 years. When de Tocqueville visited the UK he found it inconceivable that this highly-localised country could ever be centralised. Now it is the most centralised democracy in the Western world.

      The culprit is the lack of a written constitution. There are many reasons to dislike written constitutions, but one thing they do is to put a firm wall around what is local and what is national, preventing national authorities from removing power and money from localities. The pretext is always that local institutions are inefficient. Of course they are! But are they any worse than the national government? And at least they are mindlful of local needs, and reinforce the local sense of community.

    • popoy says:

      from popoytweeto because I am upstairs:

      local governments hummmm? they say the best governed is the least governed. cavemen have cavegovernance, they needed central or big governments eh?

  7. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. In Australia, there are only three levels of government:

    o Federal — headed by a Prime Minister
    o State — headed by a Premier
    o Local — City or Municipality headed by a Mayor

    2. The responsibilities of each level are:

    o Federal has “broad national powers. Among other things, it administers laws in relation to defense, immigration, foreign affairs, trade, postal services, and taxation.”

    o State has “the power to look after laws not covered by the federal government; for instance, hospitals, schools, roads and railways, police and ambulance services.”

    o Local councils are “defined by Acts of Parliament passed by state parliaments and include responsibility for town planning, building regulations, water and sewerage, rubbish collection, local roads, and pet control.”

    2.1. State and local councils provide for disaster and emergency services, some of which are voluntary. Local councils provide immunization

    3. All are law-making and income-producing entities:

    o Federal — income taxes, goods and services tax (GST), and company profits
    o State — also collect state taxes (stamp duty and fines) but receive half of their revenues from GST
    o Local — collect taxes from property owners and receive grants from federal/state levels

    4. Except for voting, which is mandatory, I rarely interact with the federal and state levels.

    o Federal — the acquisition of a citizenship certificate and a passport
    o State — the acquisition of a drivers license; the payment of toll fees

    4.1. I mainly interact with the local council… if at all.

    o Payment of property tax, water, and sewerage (all in one quarterly notice)
    o Payment of annual pet fee (for chihuahuas)
    o I used to borrow books and entertainment media (CD/DVD) from the library
    o I enjoy walks in the well-maintained park across the street. (The park has two basketball semi-courts, a volleyball court, an outdoor gym, picnic huts, coin-operated barbecue facilities, and a huge dog park.)
    o I have had to request for a replacement of my garbage bin
    o I have had to request for the trimming of the branches of a huge tree in the backyard
    o I have had to request for the fix of a water leak at the water meter just outside the gate
    o I have availed of free legal services
    o The same-sex marriage campaign was largely conducted through the Internet although there were door-knocks and phone-in calls. Both sides of the issue received government funding. (Is there government funding for opponents of federalization?)
    o There are arts, culture, heritage, and community centers and events — but no fiestas! — although I have not taken advantage of these.

    4.2. Note that most of my interactions have been from my side. All my requests were via email to the council which were promptly answered and attended to. I do not feel any intrusion.
    *****

    • Tweeto Wakatono says:

      If I may ask: what about volunteerism for the sake of the residents and the community? Volunteerism is the invisible secret of modern human and community development?

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Volunteerism is rife in Australia. Something like over 30% of the population volunteer their services, year in and year out.

        The volunteers engage in emergency services, as I have mentioned, but also in caring for the disabled and the aged, religious charity work, cleaning the environment, and even for the Olympics.

        It is a healthy civic activity, giving to the community, creating happiness, and spreading kindness all around.
        *****

      • karlgarcia says:

        Volunteerism is always part time.
        We most often see mangrove planting, tree planting, coastal cleanup, estero clean ups, house building,medical/ dental missions,etc.

        But it is part time or a one time affair, the impact is minimal no matter the press coverage.( not hating, nanghiginayang lang, it should be sustained, so I guess, no money, no honey)

  8. andrewlim8 says:

    ” People should not forget that the monstrosity and evil of the Mocha Uson episode was due to Duterte himself, who appointed her, kept her all this time, defended her, and used her to weaponize government communications. ” – wise philosopher

  9. Tweeto Wakatono says:

    in the Philippines there is no need to comment for this kind of news. Really? Talaga ba? Bakit ?

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/wife-of-former-malaysian-leader-arrested-in-graft-scandal/ar-BBNRvQt?ocid=spartandhp

  10. Francis says:

    OFF-TOPIC:

    I posted in a comment a few articles back about a trend I saw with regards to economic optimism in this country. About how the last years of the previous administration—and the first two years—saw more people see themselves as “gainers” than “losers.”

    This was in contrast to the rest of the post-EDSA era which saw more Filipinos consistently see themselves as “losers” rather than “gainers” in terms of Quality of Life.

    That “streak” of good fortune has broken. For the first time since the latter part of the previous administration—more Filipinos are seeing themselves as “losers” in terms of Quality of Life.

    https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20181003144052

    • Francis says:

      Addendum:

      All classes affected—including ABC.

      I’m not a economist or anything—but how much of this economic (mis)management is outside the gov’t’s control (like global economic trends and moves by the Fed and the US-China Trade War or something—can’t help that) and how much of it is the gov’t’s fault?

      • karlgarcia says:

        I have questioned Micha about her or his beef with Neoliberal and privatization policies.

        We need to be a part of a global community.
        One example is this impossible dream of rice self sufficiency, we should stop this dream before it turns into a nightmare, Vietnam and Thailand will always be number one and two not only in quantity, quality but also productivity.
        We don’t have the natural irrigation they have, sure they suffer almost the same storms we experience, but they can do better and they will always be light years ahead of us, so we are lucky they are just our next door neighbors and we can contribute as a group in feeding the world and ourselves, so I suggest we give up rice self sufficiency and just produce what we can.

        As to privatization, government should get rid of its business related activities like getting rid of the debt ridden government owned corporations.

        So far we suck at privatization with our utilities like power and water.
        Some say privatize customs because it is graft ridden, if graft is the problem, the corporate world has their fair share of grafters, if it is service- refer to the Maynilad experience which sucked.

        So priviatization has not worked so the question is can we make it work?

        Now to education, I saw a comment in the other blog that we should leave everything aside like infrastructure and concentrate on education.

        Even if it is an hyperbole I still say that we are giving education the highest budget, but our debt services and personnel services ( to all gov institutions)are higher, so I guess the commenter was right it is not easy.

        I gather that you are for big government, one reason I think federalism won’t work because it will create an even bigger government and you just can’t pay all the people ( active and retired).

        Now is it the governments fault?
        No one, no ONE ever is to blame. ( it is always more than one factor)

        • Francis says:

          1. I agree no one single factor is ever to blame.

          2. I am also skeptical about neoliberalism and policies linked to it, like privatization.

          I understand our need—as a developing nation—to attain prosperity, but I don’t feel comfortable with the notion that there is no alternative besides “neoliberalism” and policies derived from such.

          Global Warming is only going to worsen. Resources are being stretched quite thinly in some places—including basic necessities like water and food. Inequality is bringing out the worst in people.

          Is a paradigm grounded on endless growth really sound when taking all of that into account?

          My personal “big silver bullet” to everything globally—the populist anger in America and Europe, the various refugee crises around the world, global warming—is a “global social democratic” regime of resource sharing and stablization. Make the “left behind” folk in the West believe in the world again by pooling money from New York, London, Paris and all those big cities and giving it to them. Make the refugees stop coming to your shores by doing the one sustainable and humane solution: building up their own states into livable, thriving ones. Coordinate resources to transition to a globally greener economy.

          I know that’s greatly unrealistic but honestly—that just says a lot about the current state of humanity right now. With all the problems facing us—we would rather fight over the scraps like petty rats rather than come together to solve our problems comprehensively.

          But the point which I am trying to make is that “globalism” isn’t just this vision of neoliberal free trade binding us together. “We can envision other globalizations, like a “globalization for the people.”

          And linked to that is a broader point: neoliberalism isn’t the “only game” in town. It is wrong to assume that there is no alternative. There is always an alternative.

          But what about Venezuela, USSR and Mao’s China?

          I find this argument very irritating because it is saying something like this.

          Imagine there is this really infectious and dangerous disease. Let’s call it, FLU X. And FLU X is unstoppable—all that people can do is to quarantine and hope for the best. There have been treatments developed for FLU X but these have been ineffective or have only worsened the condition of the patient.

          Does that mean we should give up and stop finding a treatment for FLU X—on the basis of the fact that all other previous treatments have failed? That we should merely settle for the status quo and wish for the best.

          I am no Maoist. I have many, many problems with the Left and the Left(s) across the world—like their lingering attachment to Venezuela which irks me a lot.

          But I think it is unfair to assume that all flavors of the left will be totalitarian or authoritarian in nature. Or that the current political-economic system that we have in place is absolutely infallible in principle. Or that there should be no space for thinking about alternative—and no space for considering how these alternatives could be made viable.

          • karlgarcia says:

            I know you disagree with neoliberaalism and privatization.

            I believe with all the garbage we have, we could produce our own electronics and cars, but trademarks and intellectual properties will prevent that from happening.

            At least we can limit the importation of spare parts to produce spare parts with recycling electronic waste, and ferrous and non ferrous metals, plastic, concrete etc

            We could even produce minimal or minute amounts of diesel from plastic waste.
            And if theory becomes reality plasma gasification can reduce electricity prices by half.

            Now as to resource sharing, we can still contribute with leaving enough for us.
            We have over mined, over quarried, over logged.

            Then we must moderate the greed first.
            Too bad if rumors are true that our dear environmental advocate Loren Legatda is just using her position to let her son have his short cuts to the solar industry world, now that is sustainable development for you.

            For ideologies, even Micha espouses for a right mix of capitalism, socialism and all the chop suey ingredients mixed with alphabet soups.

            National interest and not ultra nationalism is and must always be the priority and must trump everything.

            I know systems thinking maybe a simplistic catchphrase, but if we think that everything is part of a system then we stop blaming the system when things go awry even with the best laid plans of mice and men.

        • chemrock says:

          Karl, re rice self-sufficiency

          You should refrain from the excuse of lack of natural irrigation as the unbreachable constraint for a rice self-sufficiency goal. The Isrealis are having bumper crops and fisheries from farms in the Negev Dessert. It’s doable. The stumbling block in Philippines is the National Land Use Act and investment laws prevent farming to scale up for efficiencies and adoption of technologies. An agricultural industry driven by carrabao-power can’t go very far.

      • It is about 95% government’s fault. The most significant factor is instability foisted on the nation by the President’s erratic and brutal policies, undermining of institutional integrity, and destroying of investor trust. The stock market is the worst performing in the world and inflation is up when other nations don’t have the problem, so it is largely internal. Here’s one view from an investor:

        “John Padilla, the head of equities at the money manager, says he’s too concerned about the high inflation level, rising oil prices, weakening peso, increasing interest rates and drying up liquidity.” https://www.thenational.ae/business/markets/the-world-s-worst-stock-market-is-not-cheap-enough-to-buy-1.776728

        Blaming others is what the chief economists are doing now to deflect criticism. Until they are willing to hold themselves accountable, I think it is negligent to participate in that idea, that it is not a self-generated problem.

  11. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. Okay.

    2. Let me address some of the issues raised according to the three most important benefits of a barangay.

    2. Basic services. Let us get this out of the way. This should be provided from a higher level in the government hierarchy. For water and sewerage, this falls under the domain of town planning. Water may fall under the provincial or even the national domain depending on where the water resources are located. Electricity, gas. and telecommunications are in the national domain and could be located within the private sector.

    3. Healthcare.

    3.1. Hospitals are in the provincial or national domain. That hospitals have turned into hospices is a problem that should be addressed, but hospitals are primarily designed — not for the care of the terminally ill and the aged — but for the care of the seriously ill, whether as a medical condition or the result of accidents.

    3.2. Private medical clinics, dental clinics, pharmacies, and ambulance services should be located in major towns. These major towns are no more than 2 or 3 towns away from small towns. They may have hospitals, but if they don’t, they should feed into a nearby provincial hospital.

    3.3. This leaves small towns. Agree that small towns should have public healthcare facilities, for immunization, for reproductive health, and for emergencies. And ambulance service. Police transportation can be availed of.

    3.4. Healthcare is an infrastructure problem and requires provincial and national planning.

    4. Legal care.

    4.1. As explained by @Ed Maglique — nice name, Ed! — the paradigm seems to be from a bygone era of village elders. Correct me if I am wrong but nowadays, the Barangay Captain is more likely to be the village bully rather than a wise village elder.

    4.2. I see the advantage of having an official calming hand nearby to mediate neighborhood conflicts and disputes, but as I said neighbors should learn to live with one another. Could it be that people have become more aggressive because they can “rely” on external intervention? And how often do these disputes arise?

    4.3. Admittedly, the judiciary is dysfunctional. But shouldn’t legal resources channeled to barangays re-channeled to the proper branch of government?

    4.4. How systematic is barangay legal care? Are judging sessions recorded? I suppose they are. How are documents filed and safeguarded? Are they digitized? Can they form a database for precedents? Are they reviewed?

    4.5. Are the traditional values used in resolving disputes in line with modern legal norms? What are these traditional values? Are they worth keeping?

    5. Emergency and special activities

    5.1. By and far, these activities seem to be the most compelling arguments and they underpin the real need for the barangay construct.

    5.2. The need for emergency services is seasonal, perhaps for half of the year. Is this the best approach to what is admittedly a perennial problem? Why maintain a permanent construct that is only needed part of the year? Shouldn’t this be addressed by volunteer cadres, like the Special Emergency Services we have in Australia?

    5.3. And shouldn’t the problem be more permanently addressed from the viewpoint of land use and building codes? Filipino resilience seems to be facing the same problems and resorting to the same solutions that never worked before.

    5.4. This leaves us with special activities under which, I suppose, fall fiestas and basketball courts.

    5.5. Sports facilities are a matter of town planning. (Here in Australia, governance is a two-way street. Residents can approach the council to lodge requests and councils often consult the public for feedback when planning new projects.)

    5.6. Fiestas! Yes, I suppose they are fun. I didn’t know they were built into the barangay charter.

    5.7. There is still the built-in element of religion. (The religious aspect may not be obvious if one is not a churchgoer.) My experience and the videos I have seen of town fiestas consist of religious processions (street and fluvial), parades, street dancing, beauty contests (female and gay), skills contests, and prodigious feasts and eating.

    5.8. Why the need for reinforcing social cohesion when we are a collective society?

    5.9. What traditional values do fiestas maintain and convey? The main event, apart from the religious, seems to be the beauty contest. And, I discovered recently, that a Filipino expat community has imported this meme into Oz.

    6. I maintain that barangays are a centripetal force that reifies tradition. Tradition is a pillar of stability, but stability includes not just the good aspects but also the bad aspects of society. And we have a thousand names for our bad cultural aspects. A damaged culture. A culture of corruption. Impunity. Patronage. Master and slave. Ningas cogon. Utang na loob. Cronyism. Nepotism. Bahala na. Amoral dependence. Etcetera.

    6.1. What we need is a break-out from the native ties that bind too tightly. Not only freedom from government. But freedom from tradition. Freedom from culture. The caterpillar has to break out from the cocoon to become a butterfly.
    *****

    • I think what you ask for is basically impossible to get to, and any progression has to be stepwise. It requires an enlightened government, and we can see that the Aquino government, fundamentally enlightened, could in no way begin to address these deeply rooted cultural traditions.

    • Francis says:

      @Edgar:

      I would agree with @Joeam that it would be impossible to reach such a situation, at least within anyone’s lifetime—my own included.

      This comment of mine was something I was planning to save until tomorrow but I can’t help but throw this thought now; it has been bubbling in my mind for some time—about Filipino culture and a way by which it can be approached…

      In that sense, I am off-topic—but I digress.

      My concern is with 5.8-6.1.

      First, a few points:

      “6.1. What we need is a break-out from the native ties that bind too tightly. Not only freedom from government. But freedom from tradition. Freedom from culture. The caterpillar has to break out from the cocoon to become a butterfly.”

      We can never be free from culture. And who is to say that “Western” freedom is freedom in its universal form—or that it is the only and/or final form of freedom? In a way—aren’t “rights” empirically not some universal abstract thing, but social constructs situated in a particular cultural context?

      (I say empirically because, like you—I do believe that “universal” rights/ethics do exist and that “universal” rights/ethics are out there. However, I recognize that while their existence is something I believe in to be true, their actualization/practice is not something as cleanly universal.)

      In any case—how we experience or define freedom is defined and bounded by the culture we inhabit.

      On these grounds alone, I would suggest that adopting “Western” individual-oriented conceptions of freedom would encounter much difficulty. The “freedom” we see in the West is not just a reflection of some abstract, ahistorical universal principle—but is the result and ongoing culmination of a centuries-long historical process that still continuing up to this day.

      “Freedom.” “Rights.” These cannot be legislated, but must be lived in practice by the whole of society through both the lives of the individuals and the “lives” of institutions and “processes” of structures that make up society.

      Any project to “change” Filipino culture cannot avoid using Filipino culture itself. The building may be demolished—but one cannot import all the building material needed for the new building, nor neglect the foundations already in place. We are always forced to build on what is already there. Whether we want to or not.

      “5.8. Why the need for reinforcing social cohesion when we are a collective society?”

      This sounded odd to me. It is precisely because we are a collective society, that we celebrate the need to reinforce social cohesion.

      The question in “changing” Filipino culture is something that I have always found strange and sometimes irksome—for as someone who is currently studying the social sciences, my take on things is that it is better investigating and focusing on structures in society and institutions if one wants to “solve” culture.

      I mean, I don’t deny that culture exists, but focusing on culture to solve culture is…not effective in my opinion. It is probably more useful to indirectly interface with culture—deal with the more “concrete” manifestations of culture, i.e. how society is structured, institutions, etc.

      Enough about my opinion. That’s just my opinion.

      But if we are to consider the question of directly changing Filipino culture…

      …and we cannot avoid substantially building on what is “already there,” so to speak…

      The question which we must ask are:

      “What from the ‘foreign’ is best compatible with what is here?”

      “What is the best possible mixture of ‘foreign’ and ‘local’ culture for Filipinos?”

      I think that an Enlightenment-derived liberalism—with the autonomous self and all that—still has some ways to go in this country. I would rather suggest borrowing something more ancient from the West: Aristotle.

      I observed in one of my classes that Ancient Greece’s morality bears a lot of strange parallels with Filipino morality in practice. In fact, I would argue that in some cases—Filipino morality probably comes closer to the more pragmatic and less “saintly” Ancient Greeks than self-sacrificing Christianity.

      Unlike Christianity—which expresses a disdain for the earthly material world and puts up the noble, poor saint whose eyes are turned towards the the otherly world as the ideal man of virtue—the Ancient Greeks loved winners in this mortal world. Arete. Skill. We Filipinos (outside of Mass) like winners a lot.

      Ancient Greeks—besides those like Plato—saw the virtuous man not only as a kind man to his fellows, but also as a successful man. Many Filipinos (see Rizal’s Pilosopo Tasio as one interesting observation of Filipino society in this regard) don’t have a good opinion of wise hermits reflecting on the nature of the Truth, the Good, etc.

      In fact—Filipinos would find it very intuitive that Aristotle listed “liberality” and “magnanimity” as virtues. “Liberality,” is essentially about the “mean” or “moderate way” of giving palibre and “Magnanimity” is essentially the “mean” or “moderate way” of patron showering public blessings on the community/privately contributing to the public good.

      I think many Filipinos would nod with Aristotle here.

      (Of course—we can agree or disagree whether these should be considered as virtues in the modern-day Philippines, but the point is that it may be worth looking at aspects of Western thought with the potential to interface and mix better with our culture in its current context.)

      The way Aristotle valued contemplative wisdom–but stressed the need for prudence or practical wisdom at the same time, would probably make appeal to the many Filipinos who prefer looking at things from the concrete rather than abstract.

      Aristotle’s ideas on friendship—I think—are something that might also find much interest among Filipinos who strongly value the notion of “barkada” and often have huge sets of friends and acquaintances. Aristotle differentiates between friends of “utility,” “pleasure” and “virtue” and counsels that the first two (especially the first) are easy to break—but the last literally lasts.

      The Ancient Greeks lived in small city-states, which fits in well—though I stress, not at all exactly—with the centrality of the barangay in our political experience.

      Where do we depart most with the Ancient Greeks?

      I think that we have our fill with Sophists. Our wonderful spokesperson H.R. counts as one example. Thrasymachus says, “Justice is the advantage of the stronger.” Gee, I wonder why that sounds familiar…

      I think that what sets apart the likes of Aristotle and Plato from the Sophists (and us Filipinos) is this valuing of the distinction between opinion and knowledge. We seem to still not be able to distinguish the two. We do not know or care about the difference between opinion and knowledge. We take the opinion of the majority around us, of our many “friends” and “peers” in our communities as “knowledge” de-facto—unquestionable truth.

      …the classics (while I admit I have procrastinated much in reading them—I am not exactly a model student) are a good read…

      • Francis says:

        Addendum:

        I found the fact that the classics we covered were rich in anecdotes to be something which I think made them very relatable and understandable.

        Especially when compared to articles preaching the abstract wonders of “good governance,” which I don’t mean to say is a bad term—only that to most people, it might sound technocratic or detached…

        • sonny says:

          @ edgar n @ Micha

          A while back, way back, I mentioned I took a sentimental trip from Baguio to Laoag. The trip covered the “poor” Ilocos provinces and the “purer” Ilocano region of Ilocos Norte. Regarding the trip I opined then that I had an epiphany of sorts and this included the juxtaposition of the hardships of La Union, Ilocos Sur, Abra and the socio-political “enlightenment” of Ilocos Norte. The topology of the “poor” Ilocos provinces vs that of Ilocos Norte is very contrasting. Ilocanos of Ilocos Norte seem, to me, to have calmer dispositions and the Ilocano spoken there is more “musical” than the harsher lower Ilocos provinces. Instantaneously I thought of the Greek Isles and the ancient Greek philosophers and the peripatetic reflections of Athenians and the bellicose Spartans, also the autonomy of Ulysses and Ithaca and the domesticity of Penelope. I realized the irony of these surroundings giving birth to the Ilocano sub-culture: the harshness and pleasantness of the terrain, the cruelty of Ilocos poliitics, the industriousness of many Ilocanos, the migrations of Ilocanos in search of better conditions. These all came together reading Francis’ reflections above.

          (Note: according to Out-of-Taiwan theory the earliest Malays out of Taiwan settled the Ilocos Norte area, ca. 2000 BC)

      • Please re-post this comment in the discussion section of tomorrow’s blog. It ties in perfectly and supports what I will be saying. Then you take up the pragmatics of change which I found so intimidating that I did not dare to address it.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Francis, I will not answer your points in detail. What I will describe is my understanding of culture and freedom.

        1. We are all born into a certain culture in a certain time and place.

        2. All countries have different cultures.

        3. We absorb our culture through different means. There is racial memory, there is DNA, there is tradition, there is the transmission from parents, grandparents, the clan, the school, the church, the government, the environment, the whole of the milieu. I refer to this as our conditioning. It is similar to the priming of young animals.

        4. Culture permeates our entire being. Biologically. Psychologically. Mentally. Spiritually. It forms us into what we are.

        5. And this is a good thing because it enables us to function within our society.

        6. When we go abroad to another country, we experience culture shock because their culture is so different from ours. If we intend to live there, we have to adapt. This means that we have to un-condition ourselves from the trappings of our native culture and re-condition ourselves to our adopted culture.

        6.1. It’s like we are a freshwater fish swimming into the saltwater sea.

        7. Now, if we don’t emigrate, we will continue to live in our freshwater pond and we will not normally know the condition of the native water that we swim in. We won’t notice that it is very much polluted. Everything seems normal such that EJKs are taken for granted.

        8. So: culture is a good thing but it is also a bad thing. Our culture is suffused and riddled with the defects that we have been discussing here and which we have documented in the social malaise slide. (Refer to the taxonomy of cultural malaise factors in “Idolatry: The Roots of the Duterte Phenomenon.”)

        9. You are right, we can never be entirely free from culture. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t because there are good things in it. But we can — we should –strive to be free from the defects of culture.

        10. The process of Jungian individuation, which is realizing our full potential as individuals, involves, in my view, deconditioning and freeing ourselves from the dross of culture. This is self-actualization, the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

        11. There are many ways of achieving this on an individual basis. I would mention introspection, insight meditation, metanoia. This can be done in the now. It requires the raising of consciousness. On a mass basis, it is next to impossible, as Joe Am mentions. But humanity has gone from polytheism to monotheism, from monarchies to democracies. So it is possible. But it takes time. Although we tend to backslide as the Duterte episode shows.

        12. In the long view of history, the crown of Western culture has been the realization of the democratic ideals of equality and liberty. And its associated notions of justice, the rule of law, due process, and human rights.

        13. These ideals are recognized as political goals in most Western countries. In Russia, China, the Middle East, the Philippines, and many Asian countries, these ideals are secondary to state power and economic progress. Most of our cultural malaise factors detract from these ideals.

        14. What the world fails to recognize is that these political ideals are in reality the highest spiritual values that mankind has crystallized so far. Even religions fail to recognize this and insist on faith, miracles, authority, and hierarchy. But the Founding Fathers were right: these are self-evident values.

        15. What is the perfection of society? I agree with you and with Micha that it is an evolving social democracy defined as a “democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices.” And, I would add, that values and protects equality and freedom.

        16. What is the perfection of man? No, it is not the superman. It is an ordinary man who has individuated to such a degree that he is free from conditioning, practices his vocation to the best of his skills, and moves in respectful cadence with his fellowmen while following the beatings of his own heart.
        *****

      • Francis, re barkada, check out the meaning of parea in Greek.

        Irineos knows this kind of stuff.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    Off topic, we are breaking records.
    Even if in terms of USD per liter the highest recorded was in 2013 with 1.29 USD per liter, the peso then was 44.44 to a USD

    So in terms of pesos I guess we have a recird high in gasoline prices even if it is just 1.06 USD per liter.

    2013
    1.29 * 44.44 = 57.33 php/ liter

    2018

    1.06 *54.16= 57.41 php/ liter

    So I guess we broke the record for gasoline prices.

    Not good.
    High exchange rates is not a boon to our exporters and OFW remittances.
    Fuel prices pushes everything up.

  13. A lot has already been said by previous posters, so I just would like to add a bit myself:

    1. Levels of government here in Germany

    a. Federal
    b. State
    c. Government district
    d. City or county
    e. City district or village

    “The Feds” take care of stuff like passports, IDs, military, the laws for everybody, internal security for everybody (federal police have border patrol, coast guard, anti-terrorist, anti-organized crime, train station and airport security units; customs has anti-smuggling, anti-drug etc. units)

    The State takes care of education, justice and police (but have to follow the ground rules and laws from the Federal level, so this is just the nitty-gritty of implementation). Noise pollution laws and other minor stuff are promulgated at that level as well.

    Government districts take care of stuff too much for cities or counties and too small for states. Air traffic control around Munich (and parts of Austria’s Tirol state, by treaty) is the responsibility of the Government of Upper Bavaria (government district). As young people, we “hated” Dr. Antwerpes, Government President (an administrative role) of the Government District of Cologne for so many 100 km/h Autobahn speed limits in his district (Cologne/Bonn area). Specialist hospitals can also be the responsibility of the government district, or delegated to a major city. Hunting, mining..

    Counties are villages, or village and small towns pooling resources, often with common offices to take care of administration. Cities or counties are the interfaces to the people. Nobody goes to the Federal Interior Ministry to get a national ID, or to the Foreign Ministry for a passport – everybody goes to the county or city adminstration as the tasks of dealing with the people is delegated to the local level. In the background of course there is verification via databases and of course Federal rules are followed. Counties or cities decide on sidewalks, zones where restaurants are allowed to put chairs on sidewalks (marked by white spots), parking fees, no parking areas, local roads.

    At the lowest level not much is decided. At least city districts, their councils and even their citizen assemblies (every quarter in my district of Munich) are there to collect and prioritize the concerns of a geographical area and forward them to the county or city. Stuff like dirty sidewalks, loud pubs and rise in crime are discussed at this level. At the citizen assembly, the city police and city admin are usually there with a representative to answer questions and/or forward concerns to be addressed.

    (to be continued..)

    • 2. The Philippines has privatized major public matters for the middle class

      2a. residence => subdivisions

      2b. shopping/recreation => malls

      The matters that the middle class usually discusses at the district or municipal/county level here in Germany are probably handled by homeowners associations of subdivisions (condition of streets, security) or owners of malls in the Philippines.

      The poorer people are left to fend for themselves in barangays. It can be that the barangay captainship is held by a rich person in a kind of slumlord power arrangement similar to some mayorships we know. It isn’t always the village bully who is captain, like Edgar mentioned.

      2c. public utilities. In Munich all public utilities except waste management are in the hands of a fully municipal-owned public utility company – which also owns all the public transport except the suburban train system. This is where you have private-sector efficiency plus public-sector stewardship combined. One can choose to buy energy from any provider but the last mile is municipal, so there. Water is public and high quality.

      Waste management / recycling is another municipal-owned public utility company.

      BTW Berlin has privatized water, a French company does it. Sometimes I think French water firms and mineral water firms work together. Bad public water means you need to buy Evian.

      • 3. Edgar and Juana mentioned two major aspects

        3a. The barangay used to be run by responsible elders. That was in the time when the old village culture was still intact. Those days are practically over. You may still find that among Lumads, where the leaders are not necessarily violent – and often are even women.

        Now what if the responsible people have either become middle class and now live in subdivisions, have migrated or are working abroad, sending money to adik nephews? Possibly the malaise of barangays and cities is a middle class that has isolated itself.

        Healthy Filipino municipalities (Naga, Cebu, Iloilo) seem to have a middle class that stayed and has decided to hold out and protect itself. No wonder Duterte hates them so much. Barangays in Naga and Cebu seem to be part of a healthy feedback system to the cities.

        3b. Culture changes. Barangay courts are similar to tribal justice systems that existed even in Germany before, or rural Switzerland, or in the Saxon kingdoms of England where it developed into the “trial by peers” jury system. There is always a tension between what people believe is right and what the justice system determines to be right. Good justice systems try to find a balance. Local courts can at most be a form of mediation, not more.

        What is true is that justice systems in colonial or oppressive contexts are often used to further the interests of the ruling groups, sometimes foreign and often much richer. The absurd quo warranto et ab initio justice system of the Philippines is an example of this.

        In places like Sicily (ruled by Spaniards for 6 centuries, among other things) this can lead to trust being given more to gangs that protect your interests for a fee, though that is changing. Or in the Philippines, a personal patronage relationship as opposed to trusting institutions.

        • Francis says:

          “Possibly the malaise of barangays and cities is a middle class that has isolated itself.”

          @Irineo,

          Was going to make this remark. As a young adult from middle class myself—this strikes hard.

          I have never encountered my barangay in all my life. Only a few times, I think—when I had to interview kapitan for a school project. That’s it.

          I wonder how much political organization, how much energy for reform has been dampened by the mere fact that the oh-so-proud and oh-so-moral burgis can simply run away from the problems of Filipino society by 1) a first-class ticket abroad or 2) a subdivision.

          (I mean no offense to fellow members of the Filipino middle class with my oh-so remark above. I added that bitter touch because I have often observed a certain condescension towards the poor in the middle class and, I must admit, myself. Does it pass our minds that we may be a symptom of our nation’s degeneration—or *gasp* a potential cause.)

          I am also reminded of white flight and (re)segregation in America.

          The “private” erodes the “public.” Having the largest malls in the world is sad, pitiful sign.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      This is anecdotal but…

      “I think our lawmakers should elevate the qualifications of the officials in the local units. Weak barangay chairmen along with their councilors can easily breed corruption. I remember two Barangay Chairmen in Zambales who follow their mayors blindly. They are weak and cannot stand for what is right. They continue to intimidate the local folk in the areas. And this is the reality around the country.

      The Philippine Constitution is very clear on the role of the Barangay but the educational attainment of many barangay officials sad to say, will not allow them to understand their function and their power. Many times, they are over-ruled or overpowered by their mayors or other officers in the municipalites. Worst they become puppets or figureheads of those in power.”

      https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/05/21/1817097/barangay
      *****

      • I remember reading that Marcos patterned his form of the barangay system – in use until today – on a system the Philippines had during Japanese occupation.

        MLQ3 also mentions that the barangay system in the Spanish era was again different from the barrio captain system of the American era, in fact the most important native position was that of the gobernadorcillo or mayor.

        In the Nazi era there was the so-called “Blockwart” who was in charge of local groups of people, spying on them and bullying them. There was a similar function in the German Democratic Republic. Probably the Japanese occupation system was similar.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Five levels!

      “c. Government district” seems to take care of stuff that affect several “d. City or county.”

      “e. City district or village” seems to be the equivalent of America’s townhall consultations.
      *****

  14. Andres 2018. says:

    I do believe that Barangay System is already obsolete. With technological improvements and all having barangays as the smallest administrative division is no longer viable. This is usually true in baragays situated in urban areas where citizens can be administered more efficiently by the Town or the City directly. However, barangay in rural areas should be taken into consideration. Lots of them are miles away from the City Hall. Political opportunism usually happen in these rural barangays.

    • chemrock says:

      Thank u Andres. This is a comment that I totally am in accord. In fact I was going to post a comment somewhat similar but u beat me to it and save me the effort.

  15. andrewlim8 says:

    Here’s what I believe to be the appropriate response to DU30’s admission that he went to the hospitals to have more samples extracted:

    ” I hope he lives long enough to match the long arc of history that bends towards justice.”

    https://www.rappler.com/nation/213539-duterte-confirms-visit-cardinal-santos-doctors-take-samples

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