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Congress can still scrap youth councils–Comelec

/ 07:59 AM September 05, 2013

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Even with less than two months to go before the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes said there was enough time for Congress to abolish the youth councils and eliminate the necessity of holding the election and spending money needlessly.

“If we do away with the SK polls, we will be able to save about P60 to P80 million,” Brillantes said.

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Congress still had until the first week of October to decide whether the SK election on Oct. 28, to coincide with the barangay election, should proceed or not, he said.

He explained that much of the budget for the SK election will go to paying the teachers who will serve as the board of election tellers (BETs).

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About P63 million has been allocated for the honorarium of BETs and another P5 million for the printing of SK ballots, Brillantes said.

“If it (the postponement) is approved anytime prior to two weeks before elections, it is OK with us since we have yet to disburse payment for teachers,” Brillantes said.

The Senate committee on local government on Tuesday recommended the postponement of the SK elections to October 2014.

Brillantes said he was not amenable to holding the SK election in 2014 as it would just cost more money.

“If they want to hold it next year, better to just proceed with it this year because if we defer it to next year, having a separate SK election would entail more expenses,” he said.

Political dynasties

But if Congress decides to postpone the youth council election, better to defer it to 2016 and synchronize it with the national elections or postpone it indefinitely, Brillantes said.

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Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle earlier said the Comelec wanted the SK abolished because it had become the “breeding ground for political dynasties.”

“We don’t see anything of importance that has been produced by the SK. We have many cases here where parents are the ones intervening in vote-buying and irregularities (in SK elections),” Tagle said.

“They (SK members) are being exposed to all of these things at an early stage,” he said.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has also bewailed how political dynasties have turned the youth councils into a training ground for their children, getting their progeny to run for SK posts in preparation for higher office.

PPCRV chair Henrietta de Villa said political dynasts were edging out other youth leaders who could serve as future leaders of their communities.

“That is not what it’s supposed to be. The SK should be a practicing ground for authentic political leaders to emerge,” she said.

‘Anomalous way’

“This is bad because it is like we are starting these young people, the future leaders of the land, in an already very anomalous way,” De Villa said.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said his committee on local government had agreed to push for the postponement of the SK election as it agreed that the SK system had to be reformed.

Meanwhile, Brillantes on Wednesday said the Comelec would be dipping into its savings to fund the barangay elections next month.

He said the poll body was given P1.1 billion, but needs another P2.3 billion for it. This amount would be taken from its savings, he said.

“This is a sacrifice on the part of Comelec,” Brillantes said.

He said the poll body had intended to use its savings for the construction of a new building and acquisition of land on which to build it.

Instead of a planned 11-story structure, the Comelec will now settle for only 7 to 8 floors as part of its savings will be used in the barangay polls, he said.

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TAGS: Comelec, Commission on Elections, Lucenito Tagle, Sangguniang Kabataan, Sixto Brillantes, SK polls
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