Titles

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Some people are dismissive of titles while many still use them to refer to persons specially government officials. I have heard some of these officials say “please don’t call me honorable” or “just call me by my name” etc. This may be their effort to exude humility or lack of arrogance but I take a different view. I am quite particular with titles not because I am a public official myself but I look at titles from a different perspective. The office a person occupies is not owned by him but he occupies it only by virtue of an “appointment” by the people. Referring to a public official as “honourable” or his official designation is not to elevate him but really to constantly remind him that his function is not ordinary and that he is bound to fulfil his functions and oath. Official titles are not meant to be enjoyed at taken advantage of, but must be taken seriously by the holder that he might discharge his functions to the best of his abilities. But as to the official titles of some of our officials, several terms are used.

When the Local Government Code was enacted in 1991, it instituted a system which, although not pure, can be considered “Filipino” style of local government. As has been said, the barangay government and the katarungang pambarangay which are uniquely Filipino were instituted. Some names of the officials and offices were “Tagalised”. The barangay captain is now called “Punong Barangay” and the members of the barangay council are called “kagawad”. The municipal council is now also called “Sangguniang Bayan” and the provincial board is not called “Sangguniang Panalalawigan”. The Local Government Code no longer uses the term “council” or “councilor”. Therefore, officially all councils should be called “sanggunian” and the members shall be called “sangguniang barangay/bayan/panlalawigan/panlungsod member” for consistency and it is the term used by the Local Government Code.

It has been observed that the term “councilor” is being interchangeably used with “sangguniang bayan member”. For some, “kagawad” is used to refer to sangguniang barangay members while councilor is used for “sangguniang bayan members”. In fact, the Philippine Councilors League still uses the term “councilor” and also in official communications. For our municipality, we have integrated in our Internal Rules of Procedure a section stating that the members of the Sanggunian should be referred to and publicly addressed as: “Sangguniang Bayan Member”, “SB Member” or “Member of the Sangguniang Bayan”.

It might sound so trivial, but the term “councilor” should be rendered obsolete with the adoption of a new term by the Local Government Code which by the way is already 27 years old! Pursuant to the law, government officials, employees, and the public should use the term “sangguniang barangay/bayan/panlalawigan/panlungsod member” in referring or addressing said officials. As someone said: addressing a person with his proper name is a sign of respect. Said respect is not just for the official personally but to the position he occupies and all the individuals who put him/her there.


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