The Commission on Elections passed Comelec Resolution 9899 on Friday last week setting the date for the barangays’ Sanggguniang Kabataan (SK) election on February 21, 2015. Then yesterday Comelec Chairman Sixto Brilllantes said it has asked Congress to push back SK elections to a date after the national elections in May 2016.
Having the SK elections before the May 2016 elections could interrupt the Comelec’s preparations for the national elections, the Comelec chair explained.
The SK elections were scheduled to be held in 2013. But there was a national outpouring of calls for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan. In this space we ourselves argued several times for the abolition of the SK because it had turned out not to be the training ground for the youth in civic virtues but the opposite.
SKs have become the actual venue for youth officials to practice the anti-democratic vices that dominate our local and national politics. From the time young politicians campaign to be elected to the Barangay Youth Council, some if not most of them use goons and gold. They have been seen to indulge in vote buying. And the intrigues and evil manipulations that adult politicians use to get elected are practiced by young people in their drive to win national SK leadership too.
The main reason for the wholesale use of adult electoral corruption practices in the SKs is that many of those who seek positions in the youth councils of their barangay and then in the national SK are in fact children or proteges of the established village, town and provincial political lords. Some of these young people are in fact fielded by political parties!
What was nobly thought to be the laboratory of youth leaders for them to develop into models of civic virtues has become the school for civic corruption.
But Congress, instead of heeding the nationwide calls for the termination of the Sangguniang Kabataan, passed a law postponing the SK elections to allow for time for the passage of a law that would reform the SKs. That law allows the Comelec to reset the SK elections and so it did–for February 21, 2015. But now the Comelec has asked Congress to pass a law pushing the SK polls back to a date after the May 2016 elections or making it coincide with the October 2016 barangay elections.
We pray that the law Congress passes in response to the Comelec’s request instead abolish the SK once and for all.
Get rid of Smartmatic and the PCOS machines
Meanwhile, we reiterate our call for the Comelec to adopt manual secret-ballot voting and counting in all precincts and the electronic transmission of precinct election returns (ERs). This way the counting is witnessed by all. Then the ERs will be verified and signed to be true and correct by the precinct’s Board of Election Inspectors.
The Comelec must not ignore the views of experts who have analyzed the defects of the Smartmatic-PCOS system.
Philippine elections must go back to the reformed manual polls in the precincts where the counting will be completely transparent, witnessed by the different parties and poll and democracy watchdogs, and the precinct election returns (ER) will be verified and certified to be correct by the teachers who form the Board of Elections Inspectors.
There is no shame attached to reverting to manual secret-ballot voting. Germany and all countries that used systems like that of Smartmatic–systems that do not have a paper trail and verifiable ballots–have reverted to manual not PCOS-machine voting in the precincts because the PCOS machines do not allow for transparency.
As shown by such experts as former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman and many others, the PCOS Smartmatic AES system violates Philippine laws.
Their use must stop.