By Cha Monforte

Let’s talk small and petty. It was E.F Schumacher who said “Small is Beautiful” in his best-selling book with that apt title. Cong. Arrel Olaño by the piece of bill he authored recognizing the purok is hitting a landmark legislation. By it, Olaño is putting to prominence the beauty of the smallness of the purok as another politico-administrative division most directly engaged with the neglected masa than the traditional barangay.

Over the weekend, I happened to attend in the induction of officers of Purok 2 in Nabunturan. There I learned of heavy doses about the workings and dynamics of purok as an organization. By and large, a purok is most concerned to intricate neighborhood issues and problems. The sea of difference that sets between the purok and barangay is that foremost the former relies greatly on the collective endeavors of the purokyano, I say on the indomitable purokyano spirit, in resolving conflicts and problems before going up for redress and intervention of the formal political subdivisions of the barangay and the municipal or city and provincial local government units.

It always appears that the barangay, since when it was nurtured during the Marcosian times in a patronage-driven and ward politics, has bred a culture of dependence to traditional barangay officials who beg from higher political power holders as when barangay resources always last, failing to meet the demands and clamor of the barangay folks for basic services.

The purok since it started to evolve in the 70s, influenced by the formation of the Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK) of the lay and religious, has been smallest neighborhood grouping with a defined territory that caters help and mutual assistance such as the good dayong and bubuay of the purokyanos.

From the start, the purok has always been democratic: purokyanos elect their officers who should serve them. But I, too, learned of the Purok 1 chairman in Nabunturan who is now doing a Marcos: perpetuating himself in power as purok president while his purokyanos have long wanted for elections.

This comes to the fore the Tagum City Ordinance No. 270, s. 2007 needs a review and re-looking. From all indications, the ordinance has junked the purok democratic tradition of elections, letting go off the practice of letting the purokyanos elect themselves their leaders while the giving the city mayor the appointing power for the purok coordinator and three purok coordinating council members.

While there’s goodness in here that such ordinance has directly institutionalized the purok as an appendage to local governance, and hence purokyanos can now directly share the city’s benefits in similar way that the Magsaysay awardee Naga mayor Jessie Robredo has given direct participation to nongovernment organizations to the workings and affairs of his city government, the problem of the ordinance is that it just effectively abolished the long practice of having purokyanos elect their purok officers.

The evolution of the purok has after all many fathers. Its development has been visibly starred by those who worked hard and voted during the GKK organizing days. I don’t know if the much-cited Vice Mayor Allan Rellon has recognized the historicity of the purok.

BLOGBUZZ: City legal officer Atty. Roland Tumanda is a good communicator. He not only has good public rapport. He’s also a down-to-earth city official…The hoisting down of a tarpaulin streamer in New Bataan was just a slight incident in the continuing positioning tiff between VG Ramil and BM Maricar. But some say, it was politically malicious. Whoever hanged it might be a saboteur to the much-touted Comval political solidarity… DavNor BM Tony Lagunzad got a katapat when he verbally wrestled another senior political turk BM Artemio San Juan (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com)


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