Against a backdrop of growing disinterest among the youth to participate in governmental affairs, 103 out of the 128 Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen in Baguio elected the new set officers of the SK Federation on Nov. 14, in a tightly-guarded exercise supervised by the Department of the Interior and the Local Government.
The new set of officers is led by 22-year-old SKF president John Ray Mananeng Jr. of West Quirino Hill and Gian Frazcine Lampaz of Fairview.
Acting Mayor Faustino Olowan administered their oath shortly after the proclamation of the winning nominees, while outgoing SKF president and South Central Aurora Hill punong barangay-elect Levy Lloyd Orcales turned over the SKF check book, documents, and some other assets of the SKF to the incoming officers.
In his post-election interview, Mananeng Jr., who will soon become an ex-officio member of the city council, vowed to continue with what Orcales started, saying it is both an honor and a challenge to fill in their former president’s shoes.
Mananeng is in fourth year college taking up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education majoring in Social Studies at Saint Louis University. He traces his roots to Besao, Mountain Province on his paternal side and Santa, Ilocos Sur on his maternal side.
Completing the roster of the 2023 to 2025 SKF are Gail Egsaen of Guisad Central, secretary; John Leo Marrero of East Quirino Hill, treasurer; Elias Pitok of Loakan-Apugan, auditor; Daztyn Atiwag of Pinsao Pilot Project, sergeant at arms; and Jasper Bidos of Loakan-Liwanang, public relations officer.
Meanwhile, City Election Officer John Paul Martin said the Comelec and the DILG City Field Office are awaiting guidelines from their central offices for the impending conduct of special elections to fill up the roster of SK officials in 76 barangays that do not have or have incomplete set of officials.
Data from the Comelec showed there are 16 barangays without any candidate, two without SK kagawad, and 58 cannot constitute a quorum.
Pending the release of the guidelines, Martin appealed to the youth to participate in the special election or nomination, whichever process will be deemed fit by the DILG.
He urged the youth not to ignore the mechanism by which the government is involving the youth in governance as the process is one of the ways of preparing them as future leaders, not just in government but also in other fields they will embark on in the future.
Contrary to perception that SK officials could not fully participate in governmental affairs because they are too young and know little about what the public needs, Martin said these issues have been addressed through the passage of the SK Reform Act in 2015.
Apart from the 18 to 30-year-old age requirement and the prohibition on electing those who have elected relatives in government up to the second degree of consanguinity and affinity, Martin said there is a now Local Youth Development Council that will oversee and assist them in the planning and implementation of their projects, which should also be in accordance with the Youth Development Plan, which the SK council will formulate.
“Hindi na puro pa-liga na lang at paggawa ng welcome arch ang mga proyekto nila,” Martin told the Midland Courier.
To better equip SK officials, the SK Reform Act requires them to undergo periodic capacity building trainings to mold and equip them on patriotism and in their roles in nation-building.
The law also gave additional privileges to SK officials. Unlike in the past where only the SK chairpersons receive renumeration, the law now mandates that all officials, elected or appointed will also receive a renumeration.
Other privileges of being an SK official are free tuition and matriculation fees while enrolled in any public tertiary school, state colleges and universities and locally funded public educational institutions within or nearest their area of jurisdiction; exempt from taking the National Service Training Program; are excused from attending regular classes in case their classes coincide with the SK meetings and special meetings; PhilHealth coverage; travel allowance if travel is related to functions as an SK official; and the same privileges enjoyed by other barangay officials.
But Martin said with more perks, SK officials also have more responsibilities and could also be held accountable.
He said an SK chairman, for instance, does not only preside meetings but also steers the formulation of a comprehensive youth development plan, ensure the implementation of programs as contained in the annual barangay youth investment program, coordinate with the barangay and other youth organizations within the barangay youth-oriented programs, submit end-of-term reports, and other functions deemed necessary by the SK council.
An SK official may also be suspended or removed from office if he/she fails to perform his/her functions as spelled out in SK Reform Law. – Rimaliza A. Opiña