Abolish SK, rationalize barangays

Efren Danao

Efren Danao

The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) is a failure as a vehicle for the youth’s active involvement in community development. It’s now time to consign SK to the dustbin of history where it properly belongs.

I agree with the stand of the Commission on Elections to abolish the SK, but I doubt if the poll body has the power and authority to do so. The SK was created under a law, the Local Government Code, and it should take another law to abolish it. I hope Congress will act with dispatch and do so before the holding of the barangay elections in October 2013, seeing that President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino 3rd is against resetting them.

To be fair, BS Aquino is just being consistent with his stand when he was still a senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government. I recall that the House bill resetting the barangay elections from 2007 to 2008 was jointly referred to the Senate Committee on Revision of Laws headed by Sen. Dick Gordon and to BS Aquino’s committee, with Dick’s panel as lead committee. The two panels conducted joint hearings, but they came out with different recommendations: Dick’s was for resetting as contained in Committee Report No. 9; BS Aquino’s, for the tabling of the House bill or until after an appropriate Senate bill of similar subject is filed, as recommended under Committee Report No. 11.

The parliamentary practice was for the report of the primary committee, if backed by majority of the members of the participating committees, to be the only one recognized by the Committee on Rules. Why BS Aquino still filed a separate report with differing recommendation was a poser. Oh well, it could merely show that he had a one-track mind even when he was still a senator.

Going back to the SK, most of the chairmen are related to local political leaders. It has become primarily a vehicle for the expansion of the elder’s political clout. What’s more, their supposed community projects were mostly unproductive ones like basketball tournaments during summer and discos. Some SKs in my hometown even sponsored “Miss Gay” contests. These “projects” are usually funded from the SK’s share in the internal revenue allotment of the barangay. Often, however, SK leaders still solicit funds from barangay residents for these projects.

The holding of unproductive activities is relatively harmless compared to the youth’s early introduction to dirty politics. This was one of the reasons why former Sen. Edgardo J. Angara had wanted to do away with the SK.

“We have to consider the fact that we’re exposing the youth to politics—Philippine style,
which we all know is a no-holds-barred avenue. I am concerned because we are accelerating the entrance of such malleable, impressionable minds into Philippine politics and all its less-than honorable practices,” SEJA explained

The same reason was aired by former Sen. Nene Pimentel, who regretted creating the SK thru the Local Government Code that he had authored.

“The supposedly more idealistic youths were imitating their elders by engaging in cheating, vote-buying and intimidation. There was even a killing in the SK election,” Nene said.

Yes, that’s right. The very author of the law creating the SK is for its abolition. Nene’s opinion should carry persuasive power among the present crop of legislators who are still undecided on the issue.

Abolition of the SK need not mean youths could no longer participate in community development or in the affairs of the local government. One proposal is the election at-large of a youth representative to the municipal or city council, alongside the regular councilors.

At present, only the chairmen of the various SKs in a town’s barangay elect their town’s chairman who’ll then sit as ex-officio member of the city or municipal council.

The preferred option, however, is to encourage volunteerism among the youths. Making all youths of certain age automatic members of the SK has not worked. Many youths are not interested in SK affairs. Many don’t even know who’s the chairman of the SK in their barangay. A more active participation will ensue if membership in an organization is completely voluntary. These are the youths with the heart to serve. All they need is for government to provide them the means to do so.

While we are still on barangay affairs, why not rationalize the establishment of barangays.

This was a pet project of Nene. Unfortunately, he “graduated” from the Senate without its fruition. Some barangays have population of more than 100,000. The most populous barangays, Commonwealth and Batasan Hills, both in Quezon City, have more than 200,000 each. Then there’s Barangay 660 in Ermita, Manila, with a population of less than 100. Manila has some 897 barangays, with one street sometimes comprising the entire territory of a barangay.



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1 Comment

  1. SK is “Sayang na Kabataan”. The idea of giving the youth the voice in politics did not work as intended. Yes, it became a vehicle of politics towards corruption. It is useless and the funds must be used for educational scholarships.