Congressmen were divided over the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proposal to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption was for abolishing the SK, saying its members only serve as puppets of local barangay and local officials in scheming corruption.
“Although there are still good and idealistic young people left in the ranks of the SK, it has not served its purpose to promote and address the concerns of the youth in the barangay level. They have no independence, and most those elected SK members lack proper education and does not even know the purpose of the existence of the SK. I support its abolition,” Tugna said in a text message.
The government allots at least P5 billion a year for the country’s 42,000 barangays—an allocation that includes the budget for the SK.
With the SK scrapped, the budget for it can be better spent in other social services by transferring it to the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Tugna said.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said the SK is not the only government agency that is riddled with corruption.
“We acknowledge that there are numerous reported cases of graft and corruption hounding the SK, but if Comelec’s most salient argument in calling for SK abolition is corruption, then we ask: why single out the SK? Why not abolish the Sangguniang Barangay, and every government institution for that matter, including Comelec?,” Ridon said in a separate statement.
Ridon argued that most cases of corruption in the SK involve corrupt barangay officials who press youth leaders to become accomplices in their illegal activities.
“If the government wants to solve corruption and the proliferation of political dynasties, it should do so not by diminishing the role of the youth in governance but by addressing the rotten political system that has disillusioned many of our young leaders,” Ridon said.
Without the SK, Ridon sees barangay councils getting more funding for the 2016 elections.
“If we will read between the lines, we can say that the Aquino administration might be supporting the abolition of the SK to give more funds to local officials, a sure way of consolidating local support ahead of the 2016 presidential elections,” he said.
In a text message, Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo described the SK as “a failed experiment.”
LLANESCA T. PANTI