San Pablo, Calabanga — The poblacion barangay of San Pablo, this town, is a stone’s throw from the church of Our Lady of La Porteria. Despite a small and limited land area, it is host to the local (municipal) government center. The municipal hall occupies the western portion of the barrio. Various line agencies, the sangguniang bayan and local police have located their offices in the area, too.
Like most of the barangays in the municipality, San Pablo is a one street affair, the name of the street and the barangay is one and the same.
To dramatize the dearth for available government real estate, the barangay council opted to construct the barangay hall in the middle but above the street, about a few strides from the intersection of barangays San Pablo and San Francisco. The structure was built out of the people’s money.
The building was budgeted at about P1 miliion. Construction suffered a lot of set backs including the change in design, plan and engineers. Residents alleged that the actual budget may have suffered “pilferege” that the building was completed at half the cost of the disbursed budget. If there was an anomaly in the fund disbursement nobody can actually mount a complaint or prove any.
For a minute barangay where residents know each other by name and face, barangay San Pablo stand out with another stinging anomalous and immoral peculiarity. Much of the barangay council sessions are “boycotted” by the elected members for a very discomforting reason. Five of the six barangay council members have already advanced or encashed their honorarium for the whole year with the consent of the barangay captain so they see no reason for compulsary attending the sessions. The sangguniang barangay can not sanction or penalize itself for absenteeism.
If change should come in the society, it should start from the smallest unit of public government unit which is the barangay. The only consolation is that, if this is happening in San Pablo, we do not expect it is an isolated case, instead, it is true to majority of the barangays nationwide.
For every opportunity where money and power can corrupt an elected official no matter how minute the position in the government, it stand out as the major stumbling to the progress of the community and the delivery of efficient and quality services to the residents.
By the way, a perennial aging Epal politician had his initials etched on the outside walls of the building which are easily recognizable by the residents. (Our artist “sanitized” the markings, which is what should be the desirable look without the Epal.
San Pablo is home to some 803 residents as of the 2010 census of population. About 5.11 percent or 42 individuals are considered senior ciitzens or have reached the age of 60 and above. Of these, 4 are in their 90’s, 6 in their 80’s and the rest in early sixties and seventies.