I partly agree with my friend Alvin Dizon’s insights on the Sangguniang Kabataan, especially on the need to have an institution to strengthen youth participation from below. So it should not be total abolition like what Batang Buotan seems to propose.
The tricky part there is, what kind of structure should a new youth organizarion take? I think this should be a product of an honest to goodness assessment of the Sangguniang Kabataan experience. I have some insights on this and you can add your own.
I think the main problem is in the Sangguniang Kabataan being attached to traditional political structures controlled by trapos (traditional politicians). By giving the SK representative a seat in the legislative body of a local government unit, with all its perks, youth leaders are pushed into a position muddied by partisanship and corruption.
One can argue that training the youth in leadership should also include being exposed to the wheeling and dealings of trapos and their corrupt practices. But that will only work if the youth leader is strong-willed and is strongly imbued with idealism, which is not often the case.
Thus, instead of helping change the negative practices of trapos, the youth leader is the one corrupted instead.
Putting youth leaders into the legislative bodies also ensures that they will become targets of cooptation by trapos who want to control the said legislative body. Thus we have seen trapos fielding their children or relatives and providing funding to their campaign for the presidency of the SK chapters in a town, city or province.
Having them in the city or town council or the provincial board is insurance in the goal of controlling the said legislative body.
The other problem is that the SK is being imposed on the youth and their participation does not come from below. There’s a law mandating the creation of SKs, meaning they are organized from above. The result is that the youth mostly only goes through the motions of participating in the elections, then forget about the organization after voting.
I think the better alternative is to retain a mandated organization for the youth that will only serve as a lobby group for youth concerns in the legislative bodies. Their leaders may not necessarily sit in the legislative bodies but act as consultants—or something like a government organized and funded non-government organization.
The role of the government is only initiate the setting up of the organization and provide trainings, or merely fund trainings.
What’s your take?