Abolish it, now!

THIS IS NOT the first column to be written on this matter and I bet this is not to be the last.  The clamor for the abolition of the Sanguniang Kabataan crops up every so often and intensifies before barangay elections, but alas, the SK has stayed and hanged on like sticky phlegm lingering on the nation’s throat.  I say this is the right time to cough it out, given a president who is sincere in cleaning up the government bureaucracy.

Nothing has done more damage to the Filipino youth’s political education and participation more than the SK.  The structure was meant to give young people, who make up a big chunk of the country’s population, the opportunity to contribute to nation building.  It was envisioned to be a breeding ground for future leaders, an avenue for youth empowerment.

But it has, dear karikna, disappointed, and disappointed us big time.

What youth empowerment do we see when most SK programs are merely confined to the staging of cheesy Mr. and Ms. SK events, holding of basketball leagues, construction of basketball courts and waiting sheds, and clean and green photo-operations where they would sweep the streets, plant a couple of seedlings, and pose in front of cameras as if they have reverted climate change?

Occasionally, there are some innovations.  In Laoag City last February, the SK Federation held one of their biggest activities—a mixed martial arts event described by witnesses as “bloody and fierce”.  It was dubbed “Suntukan sa Laoag”.

For doing just these things in addition to attending sessions where they are usually benchwarmers and sleepyheads if not perennial absentees, SK officials receive monthly honoraria and other emoluments, privileges and benefits, even free tuition fees in state universities.

There are many SK officials I know, you know, everybody knows who are remiss in their duties.  They hold office in barangays and municipalities somewhere but they spend most of the time elsewhere, most often because they are pursuing college education.

I have a former student, an SK chairman, with whom I have a running ritual.  Rarely seen in their barangay, I’d always tell him in jest, each time we cross paths, “abolish the SK!”,  to which he would reply, “huwag muna sir, hindi ko pa bayad ‘yung laptop ko.”  The kid has already advanced his honorarium for the remainder of his term to buy the fancy gadget.  At least this young politico is still more prudent compared to other SK officials who were able to establish computer shops during their incumbency.  So young and so corrupt.

As a bonus, some SK officials, even as they are busy in moneymaking and power-tripping, even find time to get themselves embroiled in sex scandals and other sleazy, if not violent, controversies.

There are a few well-meaning SK officials though, like my former student Jed Arnel Raquel, SK federation president of Batac City, who laments at how “dirty” politics can really get.  Well, ho-hum, at least Jed learned a lesson, but did he have to be an SK official to know that?  I asked the nursing graduate if he still wants to get into politics when his term as an SK official expires.  With sincerity in his voice, he said yes, but added that only when he has become wealthy from his own sweat will he return to public service so that he can do so with independence and integrity.  I admire Jed’s pure intentions, although I had to remind him that the rich also steal, and many of them, in fact, steal big time as greed knows no limits.

Yes, young people must get involved, but I should mention that Rizal, del Pilar, Jacinto, and countless other young heroes stood up for what we now call a nation, over a century before the SK came to be.  Young Efren Peñaflorida was named 2009 CNN Hero of the Year because of his keen vision, spirit of voluntarism, and selfless service.  He was not an SK official.  Charice Pempengco has inspired young people around the universe neither because of SK nor her botox treatment, but on account of a world-class talent she generously honed and shared.

I can name many a great statesmen who were never involved in bureaucratic youth politics, but who brought honor to public service.  I am even tempted to say that they turned out to be good leaders because of, not in spite of, their non-involvement in SK.

Young people do not need a parallel government so they can be heard.  In this age of rapid advances and technology and communication, there are already many avenues for the youth to voice out their concerns without dipping their hands in the murky waters of politics-as-usual.  Even the United States, where popular participation in government affairs is high, does not have anything close to the Sangguniang Kabataan, and they score higher in child protection and youth welfare indexes.

You may argue, dear karikna, that the youth can make a difference, that they can change the face of politics, and that they are the antidote to the illnesses in governance.  But that happens only in utopia.  In reality, the SK has degenerated into a breeding ground for corruption and ineptitude.  It has become the springboard for traditional politics and all its component evils including political dynasty, nepotism, patronage, and tokenism.

Public officials field their kids as candidates in order to corner the SK funds and have them occupy ex-officio posts in the barangay and city/town/provincial councils.  In Ilocos Norte, for example, the presidents of the respective SK Federations in the province and in Laoag City are headed by two men who bear not only the same surnames, but the same first names too: Rudys Caesar Fariñas I and Rudys Caesar Fariñas II, sons of Congressman Rudy Fariñas.

Note that I have nothing personal against the two Rudyses.  In fact, I find them to be charismatic, and, well, youthful.  They may even be good leaders.  But it is alarming that this phenomenon, i.e. politicians’ relatives and pets holding juicy SK posts, happens not only in Ilocos Norte but in almost all local government units.  In fact, as early as now, trapos are already maneuvering the system so they can place in their respective kids and pets to SK posts in different levels of government if and when the barangay and SK elections push through later this year and not postponed for later as the usual practice goes.  (SK officials tend to remain in power for too long because of these postponements leading some people to tease that SK now has a new meaning: Sangguniang Katandaan.)

We wonder whose interests these robots masquerading as youth representatives represent:  the voice of change or that of preserving the depressing status quo?  It does not take a political scientist to answer this question, no wonder why even former Senator Nene Pimentel, author of Republic Act 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991, the law which provided for the conversion of the Marcos-era Kabataang Barangay to the Sanguniang Kabataan, had been pushing for its abolition.  Pimentel saw, and rightly so, the need to undo a mistake.

Some quarters maintain that the SK should not be abolished, and must only be reformed.  I disagree.  I am not sold to the idea that we have to clothe kids with formal powers so they can be relevant to our national life.  It only makes them believe too early what many of us desensitized adults have come to accept: that politicians are self-important and that the citizens are powerless.

We do not need the SK to train good leaders.  We do not need the SK to enable the youth to do their share, and neither do we need it to have the voice of teenyboppers heard and heeded.  Simply, dear karikna, we do not need the SK.

Let’s expectorate it, ahem, and ASAP please.

22 Comments

Filed under Filipino Youth, Government/Politics

22 responses to “Abolish it, now!

  1. I agree. We do not need the SK. We just need to listen to the youth. Let’s invite them to relevant barangay meetings and get them involved in activities. Empower them by supporting their progressive ideas but let’s not bring them into the already corrupt political system.

    If trapos use the term “public service”, they are fooling themselves. There is no real service in politics since they get paid (or get honorarium) to hold office. Letting kids masquerade as public “servants” give a wrong message. Let’s abolish the SK and make more volunteer-based organizations and projects instead.

  2. YES, abolish it! The student leaders in school organizations could not even muster enough time to do something worthwhile. How much more for the SK official who could hardly try to manage his time in academics and his duties as SK official who needs to attend lawmaking sessions with the city/municipal council? Most probably he is a scion of the rich & famous and very popular in school, he may also be one of the top leaders in the school organizations. Try to picture his divided attention to all these endeavors. Darn hard! His senior colleagues in the council are even stressed out on their official duties as lawmakers, how could a green horn SK keep up with the job? Abolish SK and the savings derived from their salaries and other emoluments could well be used for more beneficial endeavors.

  3. imeenot

    sk is like preparing the youth to be trapoliticians in their future times…

  4. DEL

    You may want to have a good laugh.

    http://professionalheckler.wordpress.com/

    wag lang gawing editorial ni Juan Mercado

    • Hi del, really funny! LOL

      ps. It’s unfair to the guy. Juan Mercado is a man with unblemished professional integrity. I looked into the whole case and I am convinced that there was no intent to commit plagiarism. The heckler is making a mountain out of a molehill… WTH!

  5. Sana i-abolish na talaga.
    Wala naman silang mahalagang nagagawa para sa kabataan. Nasasayang lang yung pondo na binibigay para sa SK.

  6. supremo

    I agree. we don’t need them, Mayors can build basketball courts and stuffs like that. like the recent comments, they’re training the youth to corrupt and to be another “politicians”.
    Ang SK ay isa lang kabawasan sa ating pondo, milyong milyon ang inilalaan dito ngunit [sa tingin ko] wala namang gaanong magandang naidudulot at nagagawa. it’s just another “dirty” stuff for the youth.
    At kaninang tanghali ay nakita ko ang isang SK officer na nagtitinda (bato-bato sa langit…) ng kagimbal-gimbal na “*something-something* Cage Fight” tickets. CAGE FIGHT. imagine, ibinibenta sa mga kabataang (though we’re in legal age) ang mga ganitong kabrutal na live na palabas. it’s unaccepted in my opinion. At ang mahal ha, Php 100.00. pero ang ganda ng ticket. Bakit hindi na lang music concerts or battle of the bands? di ba?
    Abolish SK and make the youth focus on their studies to mold them into knowledgeable human being to serve the public.

  7. tc

    They say, “The youth are the hope of the nation”. Yes, I do believe with this. That’s why we are being prepared for the challenges that may come in our way in the future. One of the preparations is through the Sangguniang Kabataan program. We are being shaped into better citizen of nation. However, nowadays the purpose is not serving anymore. Because for some, who joined this program, they are just using this as an outlet to fame or to come up with an income. In short, they are corrupting with their young minds. With this, they are now considering to abolish it. I think it really should be abolished. Not because I am against with it but that it’s not serving its purpose anymore. People are abusing it. And it’s not healthy anymore for a healthy nation. I suggest that the government should just task a Councilor to be in-charged with the projects and programs involving the youth with no SK officials anymore. And with this, corrupt young minds will be abolished as well.

  8. deo

    Abolish SK…..These days na kasi marami ng SK officials na hindi naman karapat dapat sa kanilang posisyon…..Marami akong kilalang ganun…not to mention them na lang….Anu ba ang kaibahan ng may SK at wala??…Trabaho sana nila eh mabawasan ang mga kabataang nalululong sa masamang bisyo….Mostly mga nadadakip ng mga police na holdapper,carnapper,snatcher eh mga kabataan….Kung ito sana ang pagtuonan ng pansin ng SK eh d maganda….pero hindi eh….kaya mas maganda na sigurong i-abolish ang SK….

  9. Getting rid of SK is like removing the chance of the youth to become a great leader someday. This SK serves as training for us youth to lead our community someday. Despite the things that the critics say about it, we should still continue it. Event though SK is tainted with negative things, I still believe that this is the chance for the youth to train their selves. Although, it is a fact that some SK officials do not deserve their positions, I must say that not all SK officials have this attitude. We should retain it.

  10. curlycutie

    Dapat lng!!!!
    ..sa tingin ko binuo ang “SK” para tulungang mahasa ang mga kabataan kung pano maging isang mabuting pinuno.,ngunit sa ngayon parang imbes na makatulong ,nakakasama pa ito sa kanila.
    Dahil marami sa kanila ay dito na natututong maging corrupt .Sa laki ng pondo ng SK ,mas mabuti sigurong mapunta n lng ito sa mga iba pang programa ng gobyerno na nakasentro din sa pagpapabuti ng ating mga kabataan,,:-)

  11. Yes I think it’s a good idea that SK should be abolished. The SK in our barangay is not active. They don’t even organize a meeting for the youth they just make street names as their major project. They just make it on their own for the people to see their achievements.

  12. light

    i strongly agree. i once read an article of a person who became an SK, who after his term, had acquire all the vices, the ways of the politicians, became corrupt at that young age.
    So young people joining the politics, i think, is like putting them to the environment were corrupt persons lodges.

  13. There has been so much people already doing business of law-making in our country. So many bills are passed into laws. Yet, what kind of governance do we have? Actually, I believe there is really no need for kiddy councils or party list system in our country. What our country needs is for strict implementation of the laws! The fundamental law of our Land is patterned after the US. USA is the one of the biggest sovereign-country, one of the most diversified people and fully modernized society. Yet they don’t have such kiddy councils to help out the regular City dads, and no such partylist representatives to Arab-Americans; African-Americans; lorry drivers; security guards, athletes, etc. They spend less budget for their lesser number of law-making officials. Dito sa Pinas na kakapirasong lupa na kakaunti lang ang tao (kumpara sa USA!), meron mga SK; Barangay councils; Partylist rep; Liga ng mga Mayors, Vice Mayors, Councilors; etc. Whatever else they do, do not seem to give much impact on the lives of their constituents! They do more to enrich themselves!!!

  14. ella14

    dapat nga po na iabolish na yung SK kasi po yung mga iba dyan ay ginagawang negosyo ang pagkakaroon ng posisyon sa ating gobyerno which is not to serve. some of them started as an SK chairman or SK kagawad then naglelevelup po. Ang pangit naman pong tingnan na ang mga batang pulitiko ay sumusunod sa mga bawal na gawain ng mga mas matatandang pulitiko.. they must serve as a good model sa lahat ng antas ng gawain sa loob at labas ng kanilang nasasakupan..:)

  15. My Debate Piece
    (I BELIEVE THAT THIS CAN HELP ME TO SURVIVE AND REMAIN STANDING)
    GOOD AFTERNOON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
    *So Young, So corrupt, I got it from Inquirer, Philippine News for Filipinos, it is very disappointing that the SK is now being regarded as “a mere dispensable expense more than a vehicle for youth in nation-building.”
    *To abolish SK? No, this move will only discourage the youth to perform a more active role in instilling changes in society
    *The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the recent appeals by government officials to abolish the SK
    And proposals to synchronize the barangay elections to the local and national balloting have discouraged voters to register in word of their Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

    SK should instead be strengthened “to make it an effective venue of youth participation in governance.”
    *House Bill No. 1963 to “strengthen and reform the SK” and amend certain provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991.
    The bill aims to institute a uniform procedure for releasing and reviewing SK budgets and if you’re going to contradict and say that bill is still a bill, ladies and gentlemen, this bill is the reason why we are still arguing, to continue, this bill is to empower the Katipunan ng Kabataan as the basic unit and consultative body of the SK, to more clearly define the procedures for succession and filling of vacancies, and to regularize training seminars for SK members, among others.

    * What had happen was SK has been used, abused, and exploited by some politicians and political parties to push for their own political agenda.
    “SK members are exploited, yes, but we need to discern if corruption is done only by the SK,
    If the SK is ineffective the reason there is nobody support them and guide them.

    But not all SK members are driven to the dark side of politics. Some have managed to stand out using their own potentials without the intervention of adults.
    Humerlito Dolor, vice governor of Oriental Mindoro, is one example. He started his career in the SK.
    But unlike most politicians, (about the political dynasty that you’re talking about and may I add its component evils including nepotism, patronage, and tokenism) he is not a member of a political clan. In fact, he was the first in the family to run for public office.
    At age 16, Dolor was serving as the provincial SK president. Despite his hectic schedule as leader of the youth council, he was a consistent dean’s leister and even graduated cum laude at the Divine World College of Calapan. At 29, he finished his doctorate in Philosophy.
    And that fact is only saying that the only thing that is needed to be done is mastering what you have to do to help in balancing your job and your studies.

    SK is not sticky phlegm lingering on the nation’s throat that needed to be cough out. The structure was meant to give young people, who make up a big chunk of the country’s population, the opportunity to contribute to nation building. It was envisioned to be a breeding ground for future leaders, an avenue for youth empowerment. Thank you for all of what you have said, and I believe the three of you see the main problem so I don’t have to extend another 5 minutes to explain that what we need to do is not to abolish but cure the main problem in order to preserve the SK good traits.
    On that point you’re talking like abolishing is the answer to stop in corruptions, but we don’t think so that abolishing The Sk is the answer to stop but the answer there is the strangest word, change.

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