The barangays are the basic political units of the country to which the Local Government Code of 1991 has devolved certain national government functions. These include the following:
1. Agricultural support services (e.g., the distribution of planting materials, and the establishment and operation of collection and buying stations for farm produce);
2. Health and social welfare services (the maintenance of barangay health centers and day care centers);
3. Services and facilities related to general hygiene and sanitation, beautification and solid waste management;
4. Maintenance of barangay roads and bridges and water supply systems;
5. Maintenance of the Katarungang Pambarangay;
6. Infrastructure facilities such as multipurpose halls, plazas, sports centers and other similar facilities;
7. Information and reading centers; and
8. Satellite or public markets, wherever viable.
These functions cut across the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and they are performed by the barangay councils whose members—barangay captains and councilors, barangay secretaries, treasurers and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairs—have been, from the very beginning, the least paid within the local government service. From P1,000 per month for barangay captains and P600 for council members, secretaries, treasurers and SK chairs, the compensation has been raised to Salary Grade 14 for the barangay head and Salary Grade 10 for the rest. Payments at these new rates, however, are subject to the availability of funds. But even at the current salary levels, the barangay officials remain grossly underpaid compared to their municipal and city counterparts, whose functions are circumscribed within the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
As it is, salaries at the barangay level have remained too low to attract potential leaders with the managerial and technical expertise critical to the development of the barangays. Unless the rates are upgraded, positions at this level would hardly attract the young, bright and skilled professionals, most of whom are lost to the cities, in effect leaving the rural areas to the care of leaders hardly equipped with the skills necessary for an effective and efficient management of the rural economies.
—RAUL A. MABINI,
former vice president for Visayas,
Philippine Association for Government
Budget Administration Inc.,