Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos urged newly-elected barangay officials to retain capable barangay personnel especially health workers, nutrition scholars, and tanods, among others, for the continuity of community programs and services.

"I am pleading sa ating mga bagong kapitan ngayon na hangga't maaari sana ay yakapin natin lahat [barangay personnel] including the continuity of good programs and projects. To do this, of course, you need good people to continue these services," Abalos said during his recent visit in Cagayan de Oro.

This, as he called on Punong Barangays to discard political retribution in the appointment of barangay personnel and retain those who have been serving the community well stressing that "a true leader always inspires and unites people".

"Hindi po ito panahon ng gantihan."

He acknowledged that based on a previous DILG legal opinion, Punong Barangays (PBs) and their Sanggunian have a hand in the appointment of barangay workers, but urged them to retain those who were already serving since they have already undergone different capacity development interventions.

Abalos pointed out that retaining barangay health workers, nutrition scholars and tanods entails both technical and institutional knowledge and expertise mustered through years of public service in the community.

The DILG Secretary likewise emphasized that barangay health workers and nutrition scholars play a key role in addressing stunting and malnutrition among children in the barangays.

Sharing his experience during his time as local chief executive of Mandaluyong City, he said that with the help of capable BHWs and BNS, they were able to assist pregnant women and fight malnutrition among infants and young children in the city.

"Through our program in Mandaluyong City and the assistance of BHWs and BNS, we garnered the highest honor in nutrition. So it can be done, but the secret is not only the system but always the BHW and BNS. Tandaan niyo yan," he explained.

Presidential Decree No. 1569 mandates the deployment of one BNS in every barangay in the country to monitor the nutritional status of children and other nutritionally at-risk groups and link them with nutrition-related service providers.