July 14, 2024

Residents of Baguio City, like the rest of the country, will soon choose the leaders who will steer their communities during the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) on Oct. 30 – and they better do it wisely.
Since the last BSKE in 2018, the succeeding grassroots political exercise has been postponed, leaving the residents with no choice but to deal with their leaders – lucky for those who were wise to put into power the competent ones; unfortunate for those who selected the mediocre ones.
As the voters finally exercise their right to choose their barangay and SK officials this year, we hope the main criteria they will consider in choosing their leaders are competence and the genuine heart for public service.
In barangays that are currently ruled by officials who are seeking another opportunity to serve, their constituents should not have a tough time assessing their leaders’ competence and deciding if they deserve another chance to govern.
By now, residents should know the leadership skills and abilities of their officials, since they have been serving for almost five years already, with some of them staying in power even longer. There should be no reason for residents to not be able to choose the officials who can best serve their interest.
Being the basic unit of local government, barangays are the primary planning and implementing arms of go-vernment policies and programs in the communities and residents, being the main beneficiaries of these, should be critical enough to put into power people who are capable of delivering these basic services.
Barangay officials and SK leaders are the frontline stewards of our neighborhoods and the youth, as they are responsible for addressing the daily concerns of residents and ensuring that local policies and initiatives align with the needs and aspirations of the community.
For Baguio City, we call on the vo-ters to be more discerning in choosing their barangay and SK officials. The issues and concerns besetting the city are no longer just confined to the delivery of public services.
We need community leaders who can assert their authority and not allow themselves to become instruments by others who want to push their agenda, political or otherwise, even if such is not within the confines of humane and participatory governance.
Voters should ask the candidates for the barangay and SK elections their viewpoints on the crucial issues confronting the city, such as the revised Baguio charter, how they intend to be watchdogs of infrastructure projects not only in the barangays, but also in the city; and how can they help address the continuous encroachment of the city’s watersheds, among other concerns.
Candidates who cannot offer solutions or cannot even discuss how they can help address the challenges besetting the city are bound to just submit to the whims of other people in power and should not occupy an elective post in public office.
Voters should choose barangay and SK leaders who vow to put their inte-rest first and not succumb to pressure coming from the higher levels of local governance. Communities need leaders who can stand to what is right even if it’s difficult; rather than leaders who will choose what’s convenient for them but disadvantageous for their constituents.
Effective leaders can foster a sense of belonging, security, and unity among their constituents towards sustainable development.
At this time when Baguio’s political landscape has rapidly changed, we need a balancing force to tame leaders who have the tendencies to abuse their power.
Choosing communityleaders who are able to assert their authority is a step towards that.