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Megan Young and the detestable SK

/ 11:00 AM October 03, 2013

The past couple of months have been trying for most Filipinos. With nerves battered and tattered by endless reports of corruption and large scale mugging of pork barrel and Malampaya funds, people kept their eyes on the ball so to speak while war broke out in Zamboanga City.

Meanwhile, we are told that the Department of Budget and Management funneled more than P1 billion to senators after the conviction by the Senate impeachment court of former chief justice Renato Corona. The spate of bad news was enough to make people think of extreme measures but fortunately, there was some good news.

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The much needed respite came in the victory of Megan Young in the Miss World beauty pageant. Another positive development was the decision by both houses of Congress to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to October 2014.

The SK polls had been set for Oct. 28 this year simultaneous with barangay elections but Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes pressured the national legislature during the budget hearing. He put his foot down not to hold SK elections unless Congress passes a law to reform the system.

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III certified a bill not to hold SK elections for the next three years. As we know, the consolidated bill coming out of both houses of Congress called for reforms in the SK system and deferment of SK polls until October 2014. P-Noy is expected to sign the bill into law.

Critics of the SK system, from former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., author of the Local Government Code, which provided for the layer of SK in governance to ordinary citizens and netizens reject the SK because it has become a breeding ground for corruption. Many SK representatives are absentee officials who report only to collect salaries, while many have reached past the age of 17 and are no longer qualified for the post.

I think Chairman Brillantes was thinking of the uselessness of the SK when he pointed out that SK elections require a hefty budget of P80 million to P100 million. Indeed, why should taxpayers pay for a worthless system?

Doing away with the SK polls would guarantee the budget for teachers who will serve as Board of Election Tellers. I heard that thousands of teachers who worked in the last May elections have not yet been paid their honoraria and are now demanding that unless they are paid, Chairman Brillantes should look for another sector to tap as BET members.

The deferment of the SK polls would mean for the Comelec savings of up to P80 million, which could be used for the emolument of teachers who served in the May polls, but what about the coming barangay elections? Brillantes needs to source the teachers’ budget for the barangay polls, otherwise, Comelec will be hell to pay on Oct. 28.

What a crazy world we are in. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is very creative in finding ways for 11 senators to have access to more than P1 billion in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), while the Comelec is forever scrounging for money to pay teachers who go hungry and often face harassment while doing their conscripted duty.

In any case, despite the objections of the public against the SK, why would Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. want to save the system? Sen. Marcos who chairs the Senate committee on local government opposes the abolition of the SK. He is pushing for the review of the SK mandate “emphasizing its role in effective representation, full accountability and transparency.”

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I hope Sen. Marcos would spare the public from empty rhetoric because these pronouncements really sound hollow in the context of the pork barrel scam.

In case he doesn’t know, people despise the system. The SK was preceded by the Martial Law-era Kabataang Barangay.

* * *

Miss World 2013 Megan Young is making waves here and abroad with her beauty and winning style.

Before she joined the pageant, Megan was in the stable of giant networks, doing movie and TV assignments here and there but she did not really hit superstardom. The Miss World crown will certainly boost her TV and movie career. She is expected to earn millions from product endorsements.

After bagging the title, Megan promised “to be the best Miss. World” although I didn’t hear specifics of how she would do it. She can accomplish much if she pushes for advocacies and really works for programs that benefit young people especially in education.

Whatever it is, the succeeding days will be heady for our beauty queen. I just hope she has a good head on her shoulders and doesn’t succumb to short-term rewards which oftentimes wear out the beauty, energy and purpose of celebrities.

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TAGS: column, megan young, Miss World, opinion, postponement, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections
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