As the newly elected barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials have been taking their oaths of office lately, it has been quite noticeable that they are being sworn in by local politicians, which from the point of view of an observer, makes it look like they are swearing loyalty to a person instead of taking an oath to serve their community.
Maybe it is just convenient for them to attend the mass oath taking ceremonies being offered by the well funded local bigwigs, but doesn’t it leave a slightly rancid taste in the mouth to see them allowing themselves to be politicized so soon after their ‘democratic’ victory that was supposed to demonstrate the will of their neighbors and not the Machiavellian manipulations of the political dynasties that are willing to do anything to cement their position in the ruling class?
Maybe I’m just reading between the lines too much, and these mass oath takings are just part of the pomp and pageantry of winning an election in this country, and not a loyalty check, but in case our newly elected barangay and SK officials forget, we have to make it a point to remind them that they are PUBLIC servants first, and their being the minions of the local bossing should only come second.
Yes, they will need to work with the local officials if they are going to be successful in doing whatever they need to do to make our barangays better, but doesn’t it speak volumes of the kind and quality of political culture in our towns and cities when a legitimately elected hyperlocal official thinks it is necessary to be seen swearing their oath of office before a higher official, when they should be swearing that oath before the people they are actually supposed to serve?
Anyway, let us just wish our new officials the best as they embark on their political careers. May they always remember what they actually swore when they took their oath of office, more than who they were swearing with. And may their stay in public office be defined by their being the best possible servants of the community, rather than being known as a good soldier who can deliver the votes or whatever their bossings demand in the name of ‘unity’.
At this point we can only be hopeful that the country’s new set of barangay and SK officials are capable of being the seeds of a new paradigm of leadership, instead of adding more poison into a garden that continues to wither for most of us, whilst it blooms for the already rich and influential.
While on the topic of a fresh start, it is a bit heartening to see the DILG institute a ban, through a memorandum, on SK chairpersons appointing relatives of up to the 2nd degree of consanguinity or affinity, as well as those related to incumbent elected officials at all levels, to the positions of SK treasurer and secretary.
The DILG memo also required the appointed SK treasurer and secretary to have an appropriate educational background and undergo training with the TESDA before assuming office.
Those requirements for the SK, where most future public servants should come from in theory, look great on paper, but pretty rich if you consider that the DILG secretary comes from a prominent political dynasty in Metro Manila. So despite the noble intentions, one has to wonder if those rules will be implemented, fairly and consistently, all over the country.
However, if the SK chairpeople do comply, it would be a nice exercise for them to be forced to seek people in their barangay who are qualified who are not their relatives and are not related to elected officials. It might look like a trap for those who are sticklers to rules, since there seems to be no possible way to know if someone is somehow related to a town councilor somewhere else in the country, but at least the DILG is trying something different. right?
If you come to think of it, I have mixed feelings towards the SK. Like the party list system, it seems like a well meaning concept that is too easily corrupted and abused by the shrewd traditional politicos of this country. It has new rules on preventing dynasty-forming, but if you look at the composition of the most recent winners, it looks a bit like a mini-dynasty already.
Those Sanggunian kids should be learning the ropes of public service and good governance, but somehow end up learning how to be corrupt, kiss powerful ass, and the tricks of how to perpetuate themselves in power. A SK official who emerges from the program a better public servant, in mind, body, and spirit, seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
Is there any way for the government to do a better job at incubating future leaders than the current system in the SK?*