Exciting times for barangays

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


It’s heartening to note all the excitement I see and feel in our barangays not only in Pangasinan but in Metro Manila as well.

It’s no longer simply the usual excitement of having to go through another political exercise, characterized by boisterous house to house visits, distributing flyers, wearing colors of candidates, etc.

The excitement in the air now is about Filipinos having the opportunity and the urgency to change and improve on their barangay’s affairs. Suddenly, everyone feels empowered to make changes in the governance of their community as they deem necessary like they never felt before.

Blame it on Congress’ propensity to continuously postpone the elections for more than a decade that deprived the people of the power given them by the Constitution to choose and elect their leaders periodically.

People need to see drastic changes. In most cases, their barangay officials have merely become nothing but political assets of mayors, who thought nothing of extending their authority to their family members like it was a natural thing to do in the barangay.

Our barangay folk are more outspoken than ever about the corruption and ineptness of their barangay officials.

What a great of breath of fresh air! Empowerment is truly what democracy is all about.

*                *                *                *                *

TALK QUALIFICATIONS, PLEASE. That barangay folk are now seriously talking about desired qualifications of their new leaders. It gives one hope of real change in attitude and culture in barangay governance.

People now talk about what’s good for their families, for their neighborhood. I find it amusing that there are some who are openly and unabashedly praying for a Duterte clone in their midst. Translation: Kamay na bakal to stop the criminals, wife beaters, neighborhood bullies, gossipers and, yes, the street drug pushers who victimized their kin.

Listening to them is invigorating.

We’re still in the middle of the filing of certificates of candidacies so it’s too soon to tell if a knight in shining armor will come to their aid. Perhaps even the word ‘knight’ is not the right one because the buzz around me is to see more strong women in leadership posts.

The consensus is women are less susceptible to corruption, more dedicated to work for families’ welfare, and, in fact, tougher when fighting for the right.  Hmmm…not fair for us men, knowledgeable in everything outside the kitchen. He-he.

May I suggest, we go back to solid qualifications?

*                *                *                *                *

CRUCIAL ISSUES. To my mind, there are two national issues that we must watch closely for these have direct impact on our daily lives.

First the fate of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and its impact on the judiciary and the judicial system.

How do we salvage the judiciary’s image post Sereno-impeachment?  If she gets impeached like her predecessor, the late CJ Renato Corona, how will people now regard members of the SC, our regional and municipal trial court judges? Will the legal sector push for reforms?

If she gets off the hook, will the SC still be able to function quietly given known animosities among the members? Should she resign out of delicadeza being the source of divisiveness, or should she merely assert herself and risk more public scandal?

Is it time to consider introducing a provision in the Constitution over the selection of a CJ that will insulate the post from political interventions? Should seniority and experience again take precedence over political ties in selecting a CJ? Should the appointing power be removed from the president and instead be left in the hands of a selection committee of retired SC justices tasked by the president?

The second is the fate of the war on drugs.

Given the determination of Mr. Duterte to wage the campaign until he steps down, how far will his detractors go to stop him? If for some reason the Supreme Court finds reason to tie his hands ostensibly for the cause of human rights, what alternative is there to fight the drug syndicates and criminality?

If our laws should be deemed more protective of rights of criminals than those of victims and their families, aren’t we encouraging victims’ families to take the law unto their hands, or nurturing vigilantism?

Will martial law (via coup d’etat or power grab) again be an alternative to contain illegal drugs and criminality a la Marcos martial law?

*                *                *                *                *

LET’S STOP THE DROWNING. Every time I read a news report about people drowning in a beach area, I cannot but feel for the families of the victims as much as I feel how it was to be a drowning victim.

I almost drowned literally at the Dagupan Blue Beach when I was 15 years old. Our family went out on a picnic on November 1, 1965 to host our sister’s friend who came to visit from Quezon City.  To get to the point why I almost drowned, I heard our youngest sister Karina, who was wading with our visitor about 5 meters away from the shoreline, shouting for help. I ran to them because I knew something was wrong. She was crying as she tried to tell me that they were being pushed back to the sea by under current.  She didn’t know how to swim. I ran to them believing I could just pull them back, it didn’t matter that I knew I didn’t know how to swim.

On reaching them, I realized I, too, was being pushed out to the sea as I tried vainly to pull my sister back. In an instant, we were separated by what I thought was a 5-ft. wave. I felt myself roll under the waves and could not feel the ground below me.  I knew then I was already far out from the safe zone. Somehow I still had the presence of mind to do the only thing I knew while learning to swim -–to keep afloat on my back. I didn’t know how to tread on water.

I started to take in a lot of seawater, and I was already having difficulty keeping myself afloat. When I tried to tread to keep my head up to see how far I was, and it was then I realized I would drown in minutes. I was tired and I must have been some 75 meters away from the shore. I felt I was doomed. I thought about my sister whom I briefly saw was floating head down. I didn’t see our visitor. I was calm but helpless. Then I began to pray my Act of Contrition, my Lord’s Prayer…then I began to sink.

Suddenly a hand pulled up my chin. I was lifted to a bamboo raft brought back to shore. I was conscious the whole time. Then as I dropped to the sand, I heard people talking, that it was risky going out to get me. Someone just decided to get on a bamboo raft to get me. I waited for someone to check out my condition, no one dared. They were only happy to see me get up on my feet slowly.

So I wonder if would still be alive today if I had literally drowned and unconscious, but no one among the residents knew how to resuscitate anyone who had taken too much water. My sister and our visitor were brought in shortly, appeared to be lifeless and still no one attempted to resuscitate any of them. Could they have been saved?  I wouldn’t know but what was certain, since no one was trained to revive anyone, so they had no chance of coming out of it alive.

I can only wonder today how many drowned victims could have still been saved if there was just one trained how to revive and/or resuscitate a drowning victim.

The only way to know is to require barangays that are by the coastline, by rivers and lakes to have several barangay volunteers be trained by Red Cross on how to attempt to save drowning victims.

Share your Comments or Reactions


Powered by Facebook Comments