Issue of May 20, 2018
Mt. Province

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Several villages have no SK execs
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The resumption of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections several years after Congress decided to suspend the polls pending amendment of the law governing the selection of youth leaders nationwide showed dismal results.

In Baguio City, the de facto regional center of the Cordillera, results showed that out of its 128 barangays, 44 barangays have SK chairs but without SK kagawads; eightbarangays do not have SK officials, and one barangay does not have an SK chair. There were also some barangays where there was only one who filed his candidacy for SK chair but did not vote on election day, according to the Comelec.

Barangays without SK officials are Phil-Am, Guisad Surong, Hillside, Malcolm Square, Sto. Rosario, Sta. Escholastica, Campo Filipino, and Rizal Monument.

Barangays with only SK chairs but without kagawads are AZCKO, Apugan, Atok Trail, North Central Aurora Hill, Marcoville, Balsigan, West Bayan Park, BGH Compound, Cabinet Hill-Teachers’ Camp, City Camp Central, City Camp Proper, Cresencia Village, Upper Dagsian, Dominican Hill Proper, DPS Compound, Lower General Luna, Upper General Luna, Holy Ghost Extension, Imelda Marcos, Kayang Extension, Loakan Liwanag, Lualhati, Lucnab, Upper Magsaysay, Magsaysay Private Road, Manuel Roxas, Upper market Subdivision, Military Cut-Off, MRR Queen of Peace, New Lucban, Palma Urbano, Pinsao Proper, Poliwes, Quezon Hill Proper, Upper Q.M., Middle Rock Quarry, San Antonio Village, South Sanitary Camp, San Roque Village, Sto. Tomas Proper, Sto. Tomas School Area, Scout Barrio, SLU-SVP, and Victoria Village.

Without an SK council, an SK leadership cannot function because of the absence of a quorum.

Barangay Holyghost Proper does not have an SK chair.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is yet to discuss how to fill up the vacant slots but in a press conference on May 9, Regional Director Marlo Iringan said the DILG would coordinate with the Comelec for the possible conduct of special elections.

Asked if the low turnout had something to do with the anti-political dynasty rule, Iringan said it is too early to conclude. “It is premature to conclude that the SK Reform Act is a failure. Maybe after two elections we can come up with our assessment,” Iringan said.

He appealed to the National Youth Commission to upgrade its voter’s education campaign so that in the next SK elections, more youth will participate.

Former SKF president and councilor Karminn Nacar chooses to see the good side in the data released by the Comelec.

“The fact that more than half of the barangays in the city had SK candidates shows that the youth remain to be interested in said political exercise,” she said.

However, Nacar said social realities have changed and so has the landscape of political participation.

“While exercising the right to suffrage is one of the primary, if not the primary, avenues for the youth to participate in the democratic process, it is not always the best way. We have to find and make opportunities to engage in democracy.”

Nacar said the low turnout of participating youth is reflective of the institutional weaknesses of the government.

She said the anti-dynasty provision in the SK Reform Act is a palliative solution. Instead, Congress should have legislated laws that would increase youth participation by institutionalizing programs based on social development goals, government internship programs where jobs is not limited to making coffee and receiving documents, promotion programs for the youth, and social enterprise programs for out-of-school youth.

She has not lost hope in the youth, though. Nacar said the five years of vacancy weakened the role of the youth in governance, but it strengthened their role in social movements.

“I see a heightened social consciousness and a politically responsive youth. That, for me, is an even better triumph than the SK Reform Law,” Nacar said.

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