Abolish both SK and Barangay

LAWMAKERS from both Upper and Lower Chamber have begun talking against the continued existence of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) as some of them have even predicted that the October 25 polls would be the last. But why only SK, they should act in unison to abolish it and permanently put an end to the holding of elections for barangay altogether.

In my previous columns, long before the conduct of the synchronized elections for youth council and barangay, I had pushed for their abolition because they both have become breeding grounds for bad politics not to mention the fact that they have become a drain on government resources. Nonetheless, the expensive electoral exercises went on because the Commission on Elections had to abide by what the law mandates therwise the poll body would be accused of grave dereliction of duty, among others.

The good and “doubly-concerned” legislators could have achieved a goal that is worth-praising and worth-emulating if they’ve acted with dispatch and could have contributed largely in saving billions of taxpayers’ precious and hard-earned money if they amend the law for the purpose. Lamentably, they let first billions of pesos to be thrown away for an election that’s marred with massive vote-buying and cheating that was dismayingly promoted by SK bets’ parents who spent sizeable amount to bribe other youth into voting for them.

Barangay positions have become so attractive to many that they find it like a money-spinning business that they resort to killing and other unlawful acts just to get the posts which now offer handsome pay that they don’t need to go somewhere else to sweat their brow to earn for their living. And yet, the national police had the nerve to declare the Oct 25 polls to be “generally peaceful” with more than 30 lives sacrificed and scores hurt. That’s preposterous!

Mandated by law to be non-partisan but barangay leaders act as if they’re not different from politicians from the local and national branches of government. They have become even more politicized because mayors and congressmen have their own “manok” while others that were blessed with much abundance were ready to provide financial support to all rival groups in a particular barangay.

I am one with others like Valenzuela City Rep. Magi Gunigundo (District 2) who has been pushing for SK abolition as it would be more practical and effective if it’s replaced by youth representatives elected in the provincial, city and municipal boards.

But let me reiterate that it would be more practical and effective if the local chief executives would be given the authority to appoint village leaders instead of these costly exercises.

By doing so, we can easily pinpoint and hold directly responsible these city and municipal mayors if they would designate village officials, who in turn are accountable to them, that could be found remiss in directing the affairs of the barangay.

The good and veteran Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has been quoted as saying: “The barangay elections have shattered the unity of our communities. You compound the peace and order problem, create more partisanship and social disunity in every nook and corner of the country with this system.”

I disagree with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s statement that the SK abolition would only deprive the youth of representation in government. If only our lawmakers can be able to formulate measures and programs that would give genuine empowerment for the youth, Robredo’s apprehensions would be improbable instead of keeping this system that furthers children into engaging in dirty politics at very young age.

Even the Catholic hierarchy which has been active in advocating pro-youth programs has joined the clamor to abolish SK as it couldn’t take the magnitude of corruption that took place during the last polls. To quote a Church official: “It (SK) has failed in teaching the young the values of democracy and the skills for good governance. Far from being an empowering presence, it has become a corrupting influence on our youth.”

Whatever, it is of my opinion that the real tight spot here is our deep-fried culture and structure regarding these political exercises that always entail corruption and violence, never mind if many lives are sacrificed just to grab the most coveted posts. Ala-Pinoy style.  Arlie O. Calalo


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