Time for LGUs to take over gated villages?
Once upon a time, there were no barangays and the local government units (LGUs) were not devolved from the national government. There were no internal revenue allotments (IRAs) to speak of and the LGUs had very limited powers of taxation (to raise revenues).
Because the LGUs lacked funds, subdivisions were left to fund the cost of their own, common and collective needs, like street lights, street cleaning, collection and disposal of garbage, etc. Subdivision homeowners associations were thus formed and registered with the Home Insurance Guarantee Corp. or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Later on, the associations were mandated to register with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board under the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners Associations or Republic Act No. 9904.
Subdivisions became mini-republics. They collected monthly association dues, gate fees, building fees, special assessment dues, etc. to build association halls, guard houses, recreational facilities, etc. They undertook road repairs and maintenance projects, and hired private security guards to regulate access and passage through the subdivision roads.
Mayors were treated as outsiders in their own jurisdictions. There was the widely published case of a city mayor and his senator-sister being refused exit through a security guard-manned gate because of subdivision regulations. The video clip showed one lane with the steel gate closed and another lane open with only a security bar down. Question: Was the exit gate closed to visitors and open to residents? Was there really a display of arrogance of power? Whose power?
The creation of barangays and the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991 have given the LGUs more power, authority, responsibilities and resources. Their IRAs and their broader power of taxation have given the LGUs the necessary funds to assume full responsibility and authority over subdivisions under their jurisdictions.
The wealthy, the feeling-rich, the privileged and the powerful like to live in subdivision fortresses, gated communities and enclaves, thereby unwittingly promoting and fostering dual societies, class distinctions and special entitlements. But their main concern is still security.
If the mayors can assume responsibilities and assert their authorities in their areas of jurisdiction with the help of the police and the national government, isn’t it about time to abolish the subdivision homeowners associations and let the LGUs do their job?
Bayan, kayo ang humatol (Countrymen, you be the judge)!
—JUN M. DAWANG,
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