AS THE House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 2849 which seeks to postpone the upcoming Sangguniang Kabataan elections next month until the last Monday of October 2016, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon expressed “extreme reservations” over the rushed bill, saying that the SK postponement “does not address the fundamental issues hounding the SK as an institution.”
“Mere postponement of the SK elections does not address the issue of SK being transformed into a breeding ground for corruption. Instead, if House Bill 2849 passes into law, the end effect would be de facto abolition of the youth’s elected representation in the local government,” Ridon said.
The youth solon explained that HB 2849 does not contain a “hold-over provision,” which means that there would be virtually no youth representative in the Sangguniang Barangay, Sangguniang Bayan, and the provincial council for the next three years if the SK election this October would be postponed.
“It was the Commission on Elections that first raised the idea of not allowing incumbent SK officials to have a hold-over capacity once the upcoming SK election is postponed. This is problematic as it creates a vacuum in the law – and translates to an undue deprivation of elected youth representation at the local level,” Ridon said.
Comelec earlier suggested that instead of extending the terms of incumbent SK officials in the event that the SK elections will indeed be postponed till 2016, the most junior member of the Sangguniang Barangay would serve as the interim youth representative until the 2016 elections.
“Now let us be clear: Kabataan Partylist does not support the inclusion of a hold-over provision in HB 2849 as having such provision would mean extending the terms of the current batch of SK officials. Rather, we are fully opposed to the idea of postponing the SK elections as it would in effect deprive the youth of rightful representation in local government units,” Ridon cleared.
‘Palace behind rushed SK election postponement’
“The rushed manner in which this bill is being forced into our throats is telling – the ruling party in both houses of Congress has marching orders from Malacanang to pass this bill at the soonest. Don’t be surprised if it passes on third and final reading either this week or the next,” Ridon said.
“All this rush to pass the SK election postponement bill has an underlying implication – the Aquino administration is behind this move as it is determined to take control of the recalcitrant youth sector, which plays a pivotal role in the upcoming 2016 presidential elections,” he said.
Ridon explained that the SK election postponement opens youth leaders to central government manipulation and politicking by 2016, as the current administration can now tap funds for SK projects for their own partisan electioneering and manipulate the powerless SK to build up support for the upcoming presidential elections.
“The Aquino government can dangle the issue of SK abolition to aspiring SK candidates like a carrot-and-stick. It’s like saying to aspiring SK candidates that if they won’t cooperate and pledge allegiance to the ruling party come 2016 presidential elections, the very SK institution would be dissolved with finality by their allies in both houses of Congress. It’s abuse of power in its most sinister form,” Ridon explained.
“Analyzing the situation further, the rushed postponement of the SK elections would further endanger the welfare of the youth and would expose youth leaders to further manipulation at the barangay level, as the funds and powers delegated by law to the SK will now be fully controlled by local government officials themselves.”
“Under such situation, programs and projects for the youth would then be decided without the youth’s genuine voice – a monumental loss for the youth sector all over the country,” Ridon said.
During the House Suffrage Committee hearing of HB 2849 last week, Ridon cast the lone opposing vote. The Senate version of the said bill has already been passed earlier this week.
“The youth denounces this wholesale deprivation of representation at the local level. Once again, the Aquino administration has sacrificed the rights and welfare of the youth for the sake of consolidation building and politicking,” Ridon said.
Worsening state of the youth under Aquino
The youth solon further lambasted the Aquino administration for launching an “all-out attack” against the youth on all fronts.
“Apart from the spiraling education and jobs crisis that the Aquino administration further worsened, the current administration is now robbing the Filipino youth their right to participate in governance. Clearly, Aquino and his cohorts have nothing to offer to the Filipino youth but further helplessness and destitution,” Ridon said.
“With the Aquino regime taking back the little democratic space that we have, the youth has no other recourse but to fight back. Now, we have more reasons to go out to the streets to reclaim the rights that Aquino and his cohorts took away from us,” Ridon said.