Proposed SK Abolition: My View

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?

One Response to Proposed SK Abolition: My View

  1. alvin dizon says:

    Dear Bong,

    I totally agree with you: “the main problem in the Sangguniang Kabataan is being attached to traditional political structures controlled by trapos (traditional politicians)……”

    The major source of corruption in the SK is over the 10% allocation it gets from the barangay IRA of which the barangay captain practically has control in its disbursements regardless if the SK submits a budget or not.

    The other source of corruption is the provision where SK officials are eligible for scholarships in state colleges and universities, thus barangay officials would fight over such slot for their children.

    And of course, the root of it all — highly feudal and patronage-based local and national politics in which the SK is embedded (“new wine poured into old wineskins”) should not be blamed on the SK per se but on our nation’s political culture.

    To be relevant, the SK should do the following reforms:

    1) push for reforms including taking away monetary (honorarium) incentives to SK officials and instead provide non-monetary incentives like the following: a) getting academic credits in any school (private and public) for their tenure as SK; b) TESDA vocational certification for out-of-school youth who are SK officials related to courses on office management or other relevant technical courses; c) free summer training courses on leadership and management sponsored/developed by Local Government Academy, Ateneo School of Government, NGOs in Cebu like CPAG, etc. as well as colleges and universities. No Lakbay-Aral programs please…

    2) SK will have the power to raise their own sources of funds, revenues, incomes for specific projects identified in their SK participatory Local Development Plan; SK should sit as member of the Municipal and Provincial Development Councils as well as Regional Development Council.

    3) as one integral SK function: to conduct nationwide electoral reforms information/education campaign together with COMELEC and electoral watchdogs; SK shall also be tap for pollwatching duties as member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) for precinct level canvassing.

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