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Comelec exec wants Sangguniang Kabataan abolished

July 4, 2013 8:22pm

A poll official on Thursday said they may formally ask Congress to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), alleging that it exposes the youth to various forms of poll fraud and is only being used by unscrupulous local officials for corruption.

Commissioner Lucenito Tagle of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said this was based on the poll protests that were brought to them by SK candidates.

"Ang nakikita namin sa mga protesta na hinawakan namin, nag-aaway lang sila at vote-buying," Tagle said.

He added even parents got involved in SK elections, noting instances where an SK official's parent was the one who filed the protest on behalf of his or her child.

The Marcos administration created the SK in 1975 to give the youth a definite role in community affairs and to provide the government a means to tap the youth in its development efforts.

According to the Local Government Code, the SK is composed of a chairperson, seven members, a secretary and treasurer. The SK chair and members have a term limit of three years.

Used in corruption

Though the aim was noble, the SK, though the years, has been used by corrupt local government officials, eventually teaching the youth the tricks of systematic corruption, Tagle said.

"Maganda 'yung aim na turuan ang mga bata, pero ang natututunan nila hindi 'yung tama," he said.

A 2010 undergraduate investigate study by University of the Philippines' journalism alumni Hon Sophia Balod and Cielo Goño said some SK officials admitted to having pocketed commissions from SK projects such as streetlights and basketball leagues — usually in cahoots with corrupt higher local government officials.

No to abolition

Meanwhile, youth groups such as Akbayan Youth and Kabataan party-lists have denounced the Comelec's call to abolish the SK.

Incoming Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said abolishing the SK is not the solution to its supposed corrupt nature. Instead, he said SK should be given "independence" from barangay officials.

"Minsan, ang barangay officials ang nag-uudyok na mangurakot at maging instrumento ng korupsyon ang SK," he told GMA News Online in a phone interview.

Ridon added that penalties should be in place to illegal disbursements of funds, in accordance to Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The law penalizes public officials, elected or appointed, for graft and corrupt acts with six to 15 years imprisonment, perpetual disqualification from public office, and confiscation and forfeiture of unexplained wealth.

Comelec “anti-youth”

For his part, Akbayan Youth spokesperson JC Tejano said Comelec's call to abolish SK is “anti-youth."

“We are aware of the criticisms against the SK but these can be resolved if only Congress takes the time to pass the bills addressing these," Tejano said in a statement.
Tejano said abolishing the SK would remove the institution that "produces new and vibrant leaders."

"The flaws within the SK as an institution can be remedied and thus should not be abolished," he said.

Meanwhile, as a solution, Tagle recommended removing the bureaucracy in the SK by limiting it to a single official who would represent the youth sector in the Sangguniang Barangay.

"Kung reform, i-strengthen na lang natin 'yung barangay representative sa youth," he said.

The synchronized SK and barangay elections will be held on October 28, 2013. — KBK, GMA News
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