LAST year, cities and towns nationwide were ordered to clear their roads of obstructions. This time, it’s the barangays’ turn.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is set to issue guidelines for the implementation of road clearing operations for barangays.
The 3,003 barangays in Central Visayas, 1,066 of which are in Cebu, will be required to clear their roads within a 75-day period, said Ian Kenneth Lucero, chief of DILG 7’s Local Government Monitoring and Evaluation Division and officer-in-charge of DILG-Cebu City.
“For now, we will focus our efforts on the barangays as pronounced by our central office. We are currently waiting for the guidelines but initially, they are required to clear their roads within 75 days,” said Lucero in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered all chief executives in cities and towns nationwide to clear public roads of obstructions within 60 days or face administrative charges.
Following the DILG’s assessment last year, 10 local chief executives, including the mayor of Ginatilan town in Cebu, were sued by the DILG before the anti-graft office for failure to clear their roads.
With the road clearing operation to be implemented in the barangay level, DILG 7 warns that the agency will sue village chiefs who fail to comply with its mandate.
But Lucero clarified that barangays have the option to seek the assistance of the city or municipal government in clearing their roads.
In Mandaue City, some village chiefs have already been clearing their roads and sidewalks even before the DILG order.
Edwin Jumao-as, Mandaue City Legal Enforcement Unit (MCLEU) head, said after their initial clearing operations in the city’s 27 barangays last year, they turned the mandate over to barangay officials.
According to the City’s road clearing policy, the MCLEU initiates the clearing then turns over the mandate to barangay officials once they are oriented on how to go about clearing their own roads and sidewalks.
“We start clearing their roads; they (barangays) will continue our work. If they will encounter legal matters while they are clearing their roads and sidewalks, that is the time that we will again step in,” Jumao-as said in Cebuano.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, the MCLEU turned over its clearing operations to Barangay Tipolo after barangay officials complied with requirements, including passing a resolution for the creation of a village road clearing task force and conducting an inventory on all obstructions in the barangay.
Of Mandaue City’s 27 barangays, only seven have complied with the requirements.
These are Barangays Subangdaku, Tipolo, Banilad, Guizo, Mantuyong, Canduman and Casili.
Tipolo Barangay Captain Romana Cuizon admitted that at first she was apprehensive to clear roads as some residents reacted violently to their operation.
But Cuizon assured that she and her fellow village officials will conduct road clearing operations.
Meanwhile, Lucero said their central office continues to review the explanations sent by local government units (LGUs) that failed last year’s assessment.
He also announced that a second batch of local chief executives will be sued for failing to comply with the road clearing directive.
“As soon as the lawyers of our central office could finally review the validation reports or corresponding answers of the mayors pertaining to the show-cause order, then we will know which LGUs these chief executives will come from,” he said.
Ginatilan town in Cebu was one of the 10 LGUs in the country that was sued.
DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, in a Facebook live coverage earlier this month, announced that they filed the complaints for grave misconduct and gross negligence before the Office of the Ombudsman on Dec. 16, 2019. This was pursuant to the Local Government Code and other existing laws and policies.
Other respondents were the local chief executives of Guinsilban, Camiguin; Pili, Camarines Sur; Sagay, Camiguin; Manticao, Misamis Oriental; Pagsanjan, Samar; Caraga, Davao Oriental; Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur; Baco, Oriental Mindoro; and Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur.
Of the 1,534 cities and municipalities, 101 failed the assessment. Fifteen earned the lowest scores.
Densing said they will also file cases against the remaining five LGUs that failed once the documentation is completed.
Although he did not specify the cities and municipalities, Densing said these are located in Abra, Davao del Norte, Samar, Benguet and Cebu.
In Cebu, the City of Carcar as well as the towns of Badian, Compostela, Carmen, Ginatilan, Pinamungajan and Moalboal failed the assessment.
Compostela Mayor Froilan Quiño and Moalboal Mayor Paz Rozgoni both expressed hope that they would not be in the second batch of local executives to be sued for the same violation.
“If they reviewed the papers we submitted, then I am a little confident that we wouldn’t be one of the LGUs that would be sued given that we were even given awards by the Philippine National Police for complying with the establishment of a discipline zone, which includes road clearing criteria,” Quiño said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
He said after the result of the previous DILG evaluation, they made sure to clear the town’s public roads of obstructions.
“We’ve already come up with a computation. We are around 90 percent based on the achievement and pending ratio. Our road clearing team conducts operations every Tuesday and Thursday,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Rozgoni, for her part, said their preparations for the quarterly evaluation this year are ongoing.
One example, she said, is the transfer of around 40 fruit stands from the sidewalk to the area near their port.
She also said she has asked for financial assistance to build a public terminal since Moalboal does not have a public parking area.
In Cebu City, Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement (Probe) chief Raquel Arce said now is the right time for barangays to do their part in clearing roads of obstructions.
When the DILG issued the memorandum, some barangays, including five barangays in the downtown area, were “reluctant to implement the directive of the President,” she said.
Maybe the village chiefs were afraid to lose the votes of their constituents, many of whom would be affected, she said.
Arce, though, singled out Barangays Sto. Niño and San Nicolas as “the most cooperative barangays.”
In October 2019, days before the assessment for the LGUs’ compliance rating was released, DILG Undersecretary Martin Diño said the responsibility of maintaining an obstruction-fee road would be handed down to barangay captains.
Diño said village chiefs are more familiar with their respective barangays than the LGUs.
He said mayors are authorized to suspend and impose sanctions on erring village chiefs. If mayors don’t cooperate, they, too, will be included. (KFD, WBS, JJL )