ORMOC CITY residents voted in favor of the merger of barangays — the smallest and community-level political unit under the Philippine government system — into just three from 28, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Saturday.
Comelec, in a statement sent to reporters Saturday night, said 89.34% of the voters agreed to consolidate the villages, while only 10.08% voted against the measure.
“With this reverberating decision, the city government of Ormoc hopes and intends to bring barangay governance more efficiently and effectively to people, ensure the delivery of basic services and usher the whole government closer to the Ormocanons,” it said.
The plebiscite, the first electoral exercise intended to merge villages in a locality, had a 53% voter turnout of more than 10,000 residents.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show there were 42,044 barangays nationwide, spread across 146 cities and 1,488 municipalities. Elections for barangay leaders are held separately from national and local polls.
The three new villages in Ormoc are now called Barangay South, Barangay East and Barangay West.
The city government, in a statement posted on its official Facebook page, said the measure would create “super barangays,” which aims to improve efficiency in the delivery of social services.
“Time will tell if this is a very good move and it will redound to better services to the barangays,” Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez said in Facebook video.
In a separate statement on Saturday, election watchdog National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) said the plebiscite ran smoothly and orderly.
However, Namfrel said the voting center was not easily accessible to the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
“The voting center is not senior citizen- and PWD-friendly due to uneven grounds, dark hallways, and pipes crossing some pathways,” said the watchdog, an accredited citizens’ arm for the plebiscite.
Comelec held two plebiscites last month that resulted in the conversion of the town of Calaca, Batangas into a city and the split of Maguindanao into two provinces. — John Victor D. Ordoñez