Bigger is not necessarily better.
The largest barangay (village) in the Philippines, which is located in Caloocan City, could soon be chopped up into smaller villages amid complaints that government services have been spread so thin in the area, resulting in poor and dangerous living conditions.
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan said he would support the draft ordinance calling for the division of Bagong Silang (Barangay 176) into seven smaller barangays. The measure was filed in the city council earlier this month.
Bagong Silang has grown to its present size since becoming the relocation site of thousands of families evicted from other slums around Metro Manila, starting in the 1970s.
“The people have spoken and they would want the local government to immediately act on this. We will support them because in our administration, the people always come first,” Malapitan said in a statement on Monday.
The mayor threw his support behind the proposal after attending a public consultation in the barangay to discuss the measure, which was authored by Caloocan 1st District Councilor Karina Teh.
According to the National Statistics Office, Bagong Silang is the largest barangay in the Philippines in terms of land area and population. The barangay covers 524.68 hectares and is home to over 245,000 residents, or about 16 percent of Caloocan‘s total population.
Located in North Caloocan, it is bordered in the north and the west by the Marilao River; in the south by Barangay 175; and in the east by Barangay 186.
Barangay Councilman Carlito Peralta agreed to the split. “This barangay was established during the Marcos era and was called Bagong Silang (newborn) as a symbol of renewed hope for the (relocated) people from Tondo in Manila, Commonwealth in Quezon City, and San Juan City.”
“But most of the residents here remain poor,” he told the Inquirer.
Peralta explained that while being dubbed the country’s largest may be a source of pride for the barangay, it would be wiser to divide it into smaller villages so that public services could be delivered more efficiently.
“There are times when the services do not reach everyone in the barangay,” he said. “Among them is healthcare. We do not have enough health centers. People are hesitant to go to the few health centers we have because they are too far.”
Another concern, according to Peralta, is the deteriorating peace and order situation. “Crimes have gone nonstop here. There has been a spate of killings recently and we do not have enough tanods (watchmen), policemen and precincts to serve our people.”
“Sometimes, we hear stories of people going into a police community precinct and the desk officer could not be of much help since he was the only person stationed there,” he added.
“Right now, we have only one set of officials struggling to serve all our people. If this barangay is split into smaller ones, then there would be several officials who can better serve a smaller population,” he said.
“Based on my estimates, about 60 percent of the people favor this move because, in the end, it will be for their own benefit,” Peralta added.