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DILG asked to name OICs for empty SK seats in Baguio

/ 05:04 AM March 01, 2024

BAGUIO CITY—Local officials this week asked Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos to appoint temporary officials to empty Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) seats, including unfilled elective positions in 77 of 128 barangays in the city.

The affected SK have not been able to complete a quorum that has hampered projects and funding for village youth programs, said Councilor John Rey Mananeng, SK Baguio Federation president.

No candidate ran for those unoccupied village posts in the October 2023 barangay and SK elections, so the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is mandated to hold special polls not just for Baguio’s empty seats but also “for similarly situated barangays throughout the country,” said lawyer John Paul Martin, Baguio election officer, who attended the city council session on Monday.


Martin did not say how many SK positions have remained unfilled, but said the poll body had not yet issued the guidelines for special elections partly due to a funding problem.


“I inquired with our chairperson (Comelec Chair George Garcia) and the director of our legal department and they said no guidelines have been released by the Comelec en banc because of so many issues at hand, like the budget. Where will the budget [to finance the special elections] come from? Will it be from the SK? Will it be from the Comelec?” Martin said.

According to Martin, the Comelec’s latest National Expenditure Program does not have any allocations for special SK elections, while the current SK funds have been appropriated for “specific activities” that do not include the conduct of special polls.

Mananeng asked Comelec to draw up other remedies given that the terms of the current batch of elected SK officials will lapse in December 2025, which is a limited period to complete programs.


Acknowledging Mananeng’s predicament, “the Comelec and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are trying to thresh out these problems before issuing the guidelines for special elections,” Martin said. The DILG and the National Youth Commission are also expected to issue their respective guidelines to address the empty SK seats.

One option is for Abalos to allow the appointment of interim SK officials so youth councils can function, Martin said, but the national government will still need to determine who will pay for the salaries of these OICs (officers in charge) should they be entitled to remuneration.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong can appoint the OICs until Comelec starts the special elections, Martin said, adding that “the OICs themselves could run for those vacant posts.” He clarified that this legal option was not the official position of Comelec. —VINCENT CABREZA

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