“Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.”
By Alex P. Vidal
There was no neuro test required when candidates for barangay elections filed their certificates of candidacy, so we can’t expect that all winners in the October 28 elections are sane.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should be empowered to cancel or to declare as null and void the victory of any barangay official — chairman or councilman — found to be unfit mentally or with serious case of neurosis.
So many cases of insanity involving barangay officials have been recorded in the past. Instead of becoming an asset to the smallest political unit in the country, elected barangay officials with brain damage have become thorns and liabilities.
We remember one case in Iloilo City where a punong barangay or village chief missed a lot of opportunities to serve his constituents because he had to spend much of his time in the psychiatric ward of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in the early 90s.
In one media gathering held at the RPTA Hall of the old Iloilo provincial capitol sometime in December 1992, a deranged village chief suddenly barged in and threatened to throw a grenade to the crowd inside. Broadcaster Sol Genson pacified the lunatic and convinced him to leave the premises. He listened to Sol, his drinking buddy at Virgo night club.
Earlier when the late Pres. Cory Aquino appointed Rosa “Tita” Caram as OIC city mayor in April 1986, another lunatic village chief asked the first lady mayor in Iloilo City to extend the route of Dinagyang tribes to Port San Pedro “so that people of Guimaras and Negros can watch the event.” Caram dismissed his “crazy” idea.
A village chief in Jaro district always brought a monkey in the barangay hall because “the monkey had helped me a lot when I won in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show.” He accused a barangay councilman of poisoning the monkey, who died under a mysterious circumstance. The lunatic village chief wanted to bury the animal at Christ The King Cemetery and wanted to use barangay funds. “I oppose!” shouted the barangay councilman suspect who came to our office at Sun Star to report the “abuse of authority.”
Former Iloilo Gov. Sim Grino had to ask the help of provincial tourism officer Manny Benedicto to escort a disoriented village chief from Dumangas back from capitol to the lunatic’s municipality because he kept on addressing Gov. Grino as “Congressman Monfort” and refused to leave the governor’s office.
“Indi ako si Narsing (4th district Rep. Narciso Monfort). Si Sim ako. Gob Sim Grino kapila ka na gid hambalan (I am Gov. Sim Grino and I have already told you this repeatedly),” an irate Grino ribbed the village chief. “Lakat ta kap makadto ta kay Narsing (Come kapitan, we will go to Narsing),” Benedicto told the village chief.
This is the most common dilemma of people in the barangay. Because vote-buying is now rampant in the barangay level, it is easy to elect hoodlums and mentally deranged as officials.
If a punong barangay is not drug addict, he is a drug pusher. If he is not engaged in selling of drugs, he is engaged in illegal gambling and maintenance of prostitution dens–or in cahoots with operators of these illegal activities.
Or he is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.