Comelec wants SK polls resetBy Cathy Yamsuan, Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections will formally ask President Aquino next week to direct the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections as a prelude to abolishing the local youth legislative councils, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Thursday.
Brillantes said the Comelec en banc would issue a resolution on Tuesday asking the President to urge Congress to postpone the SK elections on Oct. 28 because the councils had failed in their mission to politically educate the youth.
“We will come out with a resolution asking the President to urge the legislators to postpone the SK elections and not hold them at the same time as the barangay polls. We have reached a consensus … it is no longer that important,” said Brillantes in an interview.
“Once it is postponed, the following step would be its abolition. The SK will disappear once its elections are postponed,” he added.
Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle on Wednesday said the poll agency wanted the SK abolished because it had become the “breeding ground of political dynasties.”
“We don’t see anything of importance that has been produced by the SK. We have many cases where the parents are the ones intervening about vote-buying, irregularities (in SK elections),” Tagle said.
“Imagine, at that age, that’s already the charges (they file) against each other. It shouldn’t be like that. They are being exposed to all of these things at an early stage,” he said.
But a new senator believes a “major overhaul” would be beneficial to the barangay-level youth legislative body.
Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, whose prior stint in the National Youth Commission (NYC) had allowed him to work closely with SK officers, said the youth councils were “not created for success.”
Established at the height of martial rule in the 1970s, the SK was called the “Kabataang Barangay” and was headed by Imee Marcos, elder daughter of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as national chair.
Members conducted cleanups and other civic community activities. Council officers received a regular allowance from the national government.
Senator Aquino, a cousin of the President, believes the SK could still be saved, saying it was necessary to involve the youth in policy making and prepare potential leaders for what would lie ahead at the grassroots level.
The senator, who was NYC commissioner and later its chair during the Arroyo administration, said that among the first things Congress should consider if it is serious about tweaking the youth legislative body is to look into how the money flows from the national government to the youth body.
Also, the elders should reconsider how SK members are chosen.
“It’s high time we looked at the SK, which areas became successes and which would need assistance. As far as I’m concerned, it needs a major overhaul, especially with regard to its funding (paraan ng pagdaloy ng pera) and the manner by which one becomes part of it,” said Aquino in another press conference.
Full of flaws
Aquino observed the SK was “full of flaws and, by its organization, it was not created for success.”
He recalled that when he was in the NYC, the SK national federation president “sat as a commissioner but was not duty bound to follow the policies” of the commission.
“There is a weird (and) unclear relationship between the SK and the NYC. Right away there is confusion. Is the SK a sister agency? How are they related?” he said.