Cabaero: Urban v. rural barangays

Nini Cabaero

THERE are obvious differences between roads in urban areas and those in rural barangays.

But the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directive to clear barangay roads fails to make the distinction. It ordered barangays to clear their roads, their turn now after the presidential directive to remove obstructions was already implemented in city streets.

For one, roads in rural barangays are smaller and perhaps rough, not maintained. There are fewer people too in rural barangays. If roads in urban barangays are sometimes turned into places to hold a wake for the departed or a basketball competition, the same is true for rural barangay roads except people here know each other and tend to be more tolerable of temporary road incursions.

Reports said the DILG would issue guidelines for the implementation of road clearing operations for barangays but, at this point, it’s the same order that applied to city streets.

There are 1,066 barangays in Cebu that will be required to clear their roads within a 75-day period. If barangay leaders do not meet the deadline, they suffer the same fate as the city or town mayors who were sued by the DILG before the anti-graft office for failure to clear their roads.

With the new order targeting barangay roads, the DILG said it would sue village chiefs who fail to comply with the order.

The order to clear roads of obstructions stemmed from the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte in July last year where he gave mayors 60 days or they face administrative charges.

Ten chief executives were already charged by the DILG but these local officials complained about unclear provisions or lack of guidelines and wondered about what more to do when their roads are narrow.

Barangays leaders foresee similar difficulties on their part. Unlike in urban roads, the size or width of the road, boundary and ownership are not as clear cut in rural barangays. There are barangays with territorial disputes, making it a challenge to pinpoint accountability, said Provincial Board Member Celestino Martinez III, who sits as president of the Liga ng mga Barangay or league of barangays in Cebu. He is barangay captain of Cayang, Bogo City.

Village chiefs might encounter problems in clearing roads that are still privately owned—those roads that are not yet formally donated to the barangay, reports quoting Martinez said.

The DILG should learn from problems encountered when it first implemented the road clearing in towns and cities. Before it begins implementing the order in the barangays, the DILG could review the first batch of implementation and identify ways to improve and be clear to local leaders.

It cannot continue to implement what it already knows as unclear, ineffective and a source of irritation when local officials are brought before the anti-graft court.

Admit to the limitations of the order based on results of the first implementation, then adjust the directive to become clearer and to make it attainable.