Birth and Death Registration in the Philippines

View From the Top
By Joe Espiritu

A seminar was called by the officials of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar. Those who were called were the Punong Barangays of Jagna and their secretaries. The purpose was to orient the secretaries on how to register the birth and deaths of their constituents. This means additional work to the secretaries. It does not matter whether the Punong Barangays understood the mechanic of registering the event; it is the secretaries that do it.

       Well, there are some of them secretaries who practically run the barangay themselves. One can just imagine; a group of persons from all walks of life are elected to make the barangay as the lowest Local Government Unit of the land. Most of these groups have no experience in governance. This is not taught in college, even if those guys ever went to college.

       So what the higher Local Government Unit, through the Municipal arm of the Department of Interior and Local Government, which is the Municipal Local Government Operations Officer tries to teach these elected worthies to run an LGU. Some barangay constituents care enough to choose passable officials; others choose those coming from, big families or those who have more money. Then as Shakespeare had said, one cannot make a silken purse out of a sow's ear. If a competent guy gets elected with the posturing idiots, he gets pulled down by sheer weight of numbers.

       To remedy the situation, the barangay council appoints a secretary to record the affairs and a treasurer top keep track of their finances. They say that even if the secretary only knows which end of the ball pen to write and the treasurer can do arithmetic without taking off her shoes as long as they can be bent or made to compromise that is qualification enough. However, those are in the past.

       Today, the secretaries have to report to the MLGOO and the MCTC Clerk of Court what the barangay honorable officials had done, either through minutes of sessions or accomplishment reports, monthly, quarterly and annual reports. If nothing has been done, since most officials just sit there and look wise, the poor slob has to write fiction. Furthermore, he has to work as an executive secretary, legislative secretary, clerk of court and this time barangay local civil registrar. Not only that, since he is the one who knows how to do things, he has to be clerk to most of the functionaries.

       The sad part is that their income is inversely proportional to their duties. All the higher ups say that it is a distinct honor to be relatively powerful even if only in the barangay level. If so, who don't we feel powerful? Then why though those people stick? Probably the most logical answer is they are aiming for a seat in the barangay council. Some made it though a few did not. The latter had not the brains enough to create goodwill with his constituents while in office.

       Perhaps the best position in the barangay is the treasurer. Imagine, the New Government Accounting System had been in force for years, they still adhere to the old ways. Besides, they have few seminars and if they have it is held in posh resorts or high class establishments. Besides also they embark on more Lakbay Laag – er- Aral than any barangay official.

       So Sprite, would you like to be a barangay treasurer? Hah, if that happens, the shortest distance to a beer house is a straight line. Money burns a hole in our pocket, so the song goes. There may be plenty who will bail us out but we have to listen to a Greek chorus at full volume during the process. Better stay a secretary and gripe. It does not cost anything.