'Impossible' for captains to have no knowledge

Barangay captains are now under the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) crosshairs with the issuance of DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) 2019-121. The MC orders all local government officials to “reclaim public roads which are being used for private means and in the process rid them of illegal structures and obstuctions.”

The MC is addressed to all provincial governors, mayors of municipalities and cities, barangay captains, the heads of local sanggunians, DILG regional directors, and more, and could hold them accountable for road obstructions that remain in their area.

According to DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson, Jonathan E. Malaya, the national government expects the country's mayors to take charge to make sure that barangay captains in their respective cities or municipalities are compliant with the order.

“We have been deluged by complaints from the people about Barangay Captains who are failing to act and worse being complicit and actively tolerating road obstructions,” said Usec. Malaya in a report by PTV. “The mayors have to make them accountable because that’s their mandate and responsibility.”

Recently, mayors of some of Metro Manila’s cities have already taken action against structures or obstructions like pay parking on public roads, as part of their efforts to follow the President’s order during his recent State of the Nation Address.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, through the Department's spokesperson, said that it is not possible for Barangay Captains to have no knowledge about such structures. MC 2019-121 orders LGU officials to take action and get in line with the President's orders through the DILG.

“Barangay cooperation is crucial for the success of this program. And as elected leaders of their jurisdiction, the Mayors must exercise their power and put their foot down to ensure that barangays will follow the directive of the President seriously,” said DILG Undersecretary Malaya.

The DILG spokesperson said that this must be done regardless of whether the captains and mayors belong to the same political party or not. Malaya said that Mayors should reprimand or suspend barangays for not cooperating with the order to clear public roads of any illegal structures.

Interestingly enough, MC 2019-121 only pertains to structures but makes no mention of motor vehicles parked on public streets, illegally or not.