April 14, 2024

We join the call of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cordillera for the newly elected barangay officials to retain workers in barangays whose tenure of work are on an honorarium basis.
This is as long as these workers – the barangay health workers, nutrition scholars, day care workers, and violence against women and children desk officers – have been performing their mandated tasks well and have significantly contributed in the development of their respective barangays, and therefore are deserving to be given the chance to continue their services.
The DILG, in its Nov. 28 advisory, is encouraging newly-elected punong barangays and sangguniang barangay members to retain and reappoint performing and capable barangay BHWs, BNSs, BDCWs, and barangay VAW desk persons or officers.
The agency stated it is worth considering these workers were capacitated by either the national and/or local governments and have gained sufficient knowledge, skills, and experience in the performance of their duties.
The appeal recognizes the fact that the Local Government Code of 1991 allows the punong barangay, upon approval by a majority of members of the sangguniang barangay, to appoint or replace the barangay treasurer, secretary, and other appointive barangay officials, including said barangay workers.
Even before they have also heroically figured in the country’s battle against the Covid-19 since 2020, BHWs and others in helping in volunteer capacity in barangays are probably the most knowledgeable about the real problems of their respective communities.
Because of the barangay workers who serve without permanent salaries, these concerns reach lawmaking bodies and concerned government agencies for proper action or solutions.
Aside from their assigned functions, they serve as the sounding board for residents from the mundane to most serious concerns.
As ones having firsthand contact with barangay constituents, they take down notes and gather data and information on matters of health, social needs, and other relevant concerns that demand government intervention. Like when cases of dengue and other diseases are monitored, their gathered data serve as basis for action by the barangay or municipal/city government, to prevent an outbreak and, if an outbreak is imminent, BHWs are the ones going house to house to monitor or convey disease prevention measures.
Based on accounts, these barangay volunteers also deal with private and individual concerns of family members, which they cannot refuse to hear and respond to, since as they themselves are members of the community, and given their training and dedication to their job, they do their best to assist in any way possible without seeking anything in return.
It is disheartening that despite their selfless deeds and invaluable share in their barangay’s wellbeing, we keep hearing sentiments on lack of respect and appreciation of our barangay workers, who we believe are equally deserving of becoming salaried government workers.
As long as they are deserving and possessing the qualifications, it is time to professionalize the ranks of dedicated barangay health workers, nutrition scholars, day care workers, and other barangay volunteers who are serving beyond their duty. We support any move, such as the pending bills in Congress and Senate seeking to raise the status of BHWs – as a start – from being volunteers to government workers, in recognition of their huge role as first responders in the community.
We also laud local government units which initiated measures that provide incentives and other benefits to their barangays workers given the risks and hazards they face during emergency situations.
In the meantime, new barangay officials should consider the mandate given to them by their constituents as an opportune time to push for the welfare of their fellow barangay servants by retaining their services.
We hope that seeking to standardize the salaries of barangay volunteers will not diminish their passion for service.
But more than monetary considerations, we hope that we in the communities, who are the immediate recipients of the services of our volunteers, maintain our respect and appreciation of selfless acts that serve as the backbone of national policies and help improve societies as a whole.