SK: Sangguniang Kabataan or Sangguniang Kabulukan?

The official emblem of the Sangguniang Kabataan

In the past years, Sangguniang Kabataan organization of the Philippine Government has been receiving negative remarks and has always had questionable integrity before the Filipino people. While we try to strain forward towards a new, clean, corrupt-free government, some of these little officials that we have are quite turning on the opposite side of the way.

For your enlightenment, Sangguniang Kabataan in the Philippines was created as an answer to the needs in developing the youth in each barangay holistically to be able to uphold and realize that every Kabataan (youth) will be a hope for our nation, like what Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, aspired for.  With the activities they are spearheading, youths are expected to be changed, for the better and in the future be the role models of the society.

However, this purpose has slowly been erased in the minds of some SK officials. I AM NOT GENERALIZING though. I have mentioned that it has slowly been erased because in the past years, or during those moments that I have started to become conscious on what was happening with our nation, I have seen and personally experienced that SK is becoming a culprit of corruption, mismanagement, and traditional politics. Why do I say so?

Corruption. If before, the youth who are very proactive are the ones who are running for the different elective position in the Sangguniang Kabataan, nowadays some candidates are youths who are INCAPABLE, UNDESERVING and does not have POLITICAL WILL over their constituents. Why? Because nowadays those officers that we have are just monopolizing the elections because some of them are after the privilege of being an officer, if not they are after the salary, or the different incentives that they are receiving. Isn’t this corruption in a least obvious manner?

Mismanagement.  Have you ever heard of projects in the barangay just like discos? How does this follow the thrust of developing the youth holistically? How can a dance, a social gathering, and mostly the root of youth riots, become a venue for the youth to be changed holistically? Let’s think about it. While some SKs are trying to follow the purpose of the establishment of SK, there are also some SKs which are not very prudent in the development of the youth. Just to have a project for the barangay, any activity that comes into their minds, though useless and a waste of money, and for the record, PUBLIC’s MONEY, they will implement. How come would that be a good example of leading the youth right?

Another mismanagement that is obvious is those SK officials that are studying outside the vicinity of their jurisdiction and their city. SK officials are supposed to be the representatives of the youth to the barangay council but how can they realize this if they are kilometers, nautical miles, or even miles away from their barangay jurisdiction? How can they listen, plan and at least give solution to such grievances of those youth coming from their barangay if they are studying in Cebu, Manila, et al. Another obvious mismanagement.

Traditional Politics. We’ve said we wanted a change. But having SK is no change at all. A senator once said that SK is a good venue for training the youth to be better leaders in the future. I agree and disagree. I agree in a way that it really will give the youth a privilege to lead and to manage, but I disagree likewise because as obvious as it is, this is the very first level of becoming a traditional politician.

A friend of mine, who is a child of a barangay captain, told me that even in the SK elections, vote buying is very rampant with money ranging from P20 to P500. I asked that friend of mine if it happens in every SK elections. My friend said yes. Imagine? At a very young age, some SKs are already hungry of power that to the extent of vote buying will they risk? How come did that become a good training ground? Maybe a good training ground for TRAPO.

I repeat, I am not generalizing SK here. There are some who are functioning well and some who are a slap on the face of our country, Philippines.

What is to be done now?  I suggest that Pnoy, especially the DILG, will have revisions over the local government code especially those pertaining to SK or instead, strengthen the different Student Organizations in the campuses. This is for the reason that there is more transparency in the Student Governments rather than in SKs. Transparency in a way that it has guiding principles, it has watchdogs such as the school administration and the student body itself. A reform in SK may help at all. But that’s of no assurance.

On the brighter side, I have had the chance to work with some SK officials in Pagadian City during the Linggo ng Kabataan of 2008. I can say that they are responsible enough to do their duties not only in their jurisdiction but also the city because I have personally seen what they were doing in their own jurisdictions.

But what I am writing here is about those other SK officials especially in rural areas where youth are non-reactive, where youth just don’t care enough. We need to wake up now. NOW IS THE CHANCE THAT THOSE NEWLY-ELECTED SK OFFICIALS WILL PROVE THEIR WORTH AND WILL NOT HAVE THEIR LEADERSHIP DEFINED BY THE MONEY THEY GAVE OR THOSE BLACK-PROPAGANDAS THEY DID. And now more than ever, if we really want a change, then let’s not have second thoughts in the reform of SK and be a strong watchdog to them. Because if there will be none, then we can’t really see to it that they’re doing their job.

Throughout the years, the Supreme Student Government Program of the Department of Education has been steadfast on their stand on the abolishment of SK. The SSG finds it dysfunctional, and ironic to its purpose. May this one enlighten us.  I did not write this to offend or malign the SK, I am just writing this as a person, a citizen, a Filipino. And it is our duty to be aware of the happenings in our country.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.

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