Trailblazing Barangay Politician Invades Council

Edgar Ibuyan had served as barangay chairman of a Davao City village for nearly two decades, establishing a sterling public-service record that is not backed by money, power or political pedigree. Now that he is at the City Council, will this trailblazer continue serving the people?

BY CJ KUIZON
Davao Today
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 26, August 5-11, 2007

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Councilor Edgar Ibuyan, former barangay chairman of 5-A Bankerohan, is unique among all the neophytes at the 15th City Council. He is the only one who is not a brother or a child of a former councilor, mayor or vice-mayor. He is recognized as a trailblazer in barangay-level politics in the city.

The potential to do much good is truly there. The portly gentleman was a barangay (village) councilor for nine years before he served as barangay chairman for another 10. Being an active barangay official for all of those 19 years, he has seen the real plight of the people.

In fact, his projects as barangay chairman were simple but geared toward directly responding to the needs of his constituents in Bankerohan. He is most proud of the barangay cooperative that he initiated as well as the satellite slaughterhouse that, he boasts, earns for the village some 200,000 pesos each month. A lot of his focus has also been for the youth, assisting in Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s scholarship program and getting children off the streets.

As a councilor, he admits to being a little nervous of his wider territory. Gone is his manageable barangay where he said he had a hands-on role in catering to his constituents’ needs. Aside from youth-oriented projects, he has pledged special attention to health and “people empowerment,” the latter through institutionalizing provisions in the Local Government Code that would give more power to the grassroots. He has also promised to review the provision for the devolved functions to barangays to help the villages get a bigger role in sanitation as well as garbage collection and disposal in their localities.

Another way to view the widening of his scope is that he now has a lot more room to serve the people. He has been chosen as chairman of the committee on Labor and Employment, vice-chairman of the Government Enterprises and Privatization committee and member in both the Barangay Affairs and the Public Works and Highways committees.

Pressed for his view on the demands by workers for higher wages, the councilor was torn. He said he would want to legislate an increase but there were many factors to consider. He said he feared that many companies might not be able to afford a wage increase and that it might force companies to close.

Asked whether he would agree to the privatization of the Davao City Water District, he stated that there could be benefits to such a move because privatization meant better maintenance. However, he admits that he still needs to learn what he can do in these committees.

During most of davaotoday.com’s interview, the new councilor was talking about the youth. In fact, he grabbed the spotlight in the 15th council’s first session a few weeks back when he reiterated his campaign to sacrifice half of his salary in favor of children’s scholarships.

Under this scholarship program, several boys aged 9 to 16 are directly under Ibuyan’s care, living in his compound. They seemed a happy bunch. They were “rescued” children, according to the councilor. And indeed the children talked about being out of school, turning to rugby to forget their hunger and daily woes. A 12-year-old said he was thankful that they were picked up by the authorities and brought to Ibuyan’s halfway house. Now, the boy and his companions are well-fed and are in school.

Ibuyan himself was the 10th son of a dried-fish vendor and said that he could relate to the feelings of the children from marginalized families. He recalled that, growing up, nobody cared enough to ask him if he had eaten or if he had gone to school. There was nobody to reprimand him, he said. Ibuyan said that this kind of environment allows a child to get lost, to be without direction.

Ibuyan said he believes that getting the kids off the streets and putting them in school will help solve the problem of rampant gang conflicts and summary killings. He said children involved in these anti-social activities are actually victims of poverty. Many who resort to petty crimes are not really bad, Ibuyan said, but only lack the attention and care of their parents.

The councilor attributes his success to the Almighty. That he is truly devout shows in conversations with him. He peppers his anecdotes with phrases “through God’s mercy” and “God’s will.” While in his car on his way to work one day this month, he stopped so he could greet a young couple walking by the side of the street. He later divulged that the couple’s relationship almost collapsed were it not for their newfound devotion to their faith.

Aside from God, Ibuyan is also devoted and intensely loyal to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Which raises the question: Will he continue with his trailblazing ways now that he is at the City Council? Or will he allow himself to be swallowed by that chamber’s politics? Davao Today / Posted byBulatlat.com

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