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THE BARANGAY AS A UNIT OF SOCIETY

The Barangay as a political unit is the most enduring legacy of our pre-Hispanic past. As pupils
we learned that the word barangay traces its roots to balangay the small but sturdy boats that
our Malay ancestors used to navigate the rough seas of the Pacific to settle in these lands.
As barangay officials, it would be best to understand the history of this unique political unit so as
to better recognize its indispensability to effective local and national governance.
In the ancient barangay, the datu was the head and under the datu was the vital Council of Elders
which acted as an advisory body. It is important to underscore that the datu may either be male or
female. This is a reflection of how democratic our pre-Hispanic ancestors were because gender
did not matter so long as the datu had the trust and confidence of the people.
The only requirement was that the datu must have distinguished himself or herself in some way
be it in battle or as a crisis manager. The position can be inherited but only if successors possess
the same traits as the predecessor. Otherwise, a new and more deserving datu was selected by all
free men and women of the barangay, regardless of social class. Datus were indeed genuine
public servants who gave premium to the interest and welfare of the barangay.
The barangay is also the principal link of the people to the municipal, provincial and national
government and vice versa. Because you operate at the grassroots level, your inputs regarding
the needs of your constituents is invaluable as you are the most accurate barometer of the real
pulse of the people.
The executive powers of the barangay primarily include enforcing all laws and ordinances
applicable within the barangay and the planning of programs, projects and activities in the
community. Its legislative powers are vested with the Sangguniang Barangay which is mandated
to enact ordinances necessary to discharge the responsibilities conferred on it by law. Finally, the
barangay has quasi-judicial powers. Through the Lupong Tagapamayapa, it has the authority to
mediate and amicably settle disputes between members of the barangay. In fact, a certification
from the Lupon that no conciliation or settlement has been reached regarding matters within its
authority is required as a pre-condition to the filing of a case in court or any other government
office for adjudication.
The fusion of the powers of the three branches of government in the barangay places this small
political unit a notch higher than the parliamentary system. In a parliamentary set-up, executive
and legislative functions are exercised simultaneously but barangay officials also have quasijudicial powers apart from the power to implement and enact laws.
The duties and responsibilities of barangay officials seem endless because apart from all those
Ive already underscored, the barangay also has fiscal or taxing powers and is tasked to maintain
peace and order. Under Sec. 152 of the Local Government Code, barangays may levy taxes,
fees, and charges which shall exclusively accrue to them. Moreover, it is expressly provided
in Sec. 388 of the same statute that the barangay is charged with the maintenance of public
order, protection and security of life and property, or the maintenance of a desirable balanced
environment.