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July 14, 2013 by The Muralla

in Socio-Political.

By Adrian John O. Ladaga, Staff Writer | Does Philippine politics corrupt youth leaders?

Debates on whether to reform or abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) system once again resurfaced months ahead of another Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October 28. The 16th congress which opened a few weeks ago seems divided on the issue; so is the publics opinion.

Breeding grounds

A week ago, Commission on Election (Comelec) Commisioner Lucenito Tagle called for the abolition of the youth body claiming that it has been a breeding ground for corruption.

Tagle also insinuated that the SK is being used by unscrupulous politicians by exposing them to poll fraud and several anomalous activities concerning graft and bribery.

Such allegations may be more than visible in society than not.

The Sangguniang Kabataan, which was established by virtue of the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160, is a restructured Kabataang Barangay of the Marcos years.

Youth voters aged 15-17 years old can vote or be voted on SK seats .The chairman of the SK is considered a regular member of the barangay council. Elected SK officials will serve their constituents for the next five years.

But the SK issue remains to center on money. Ten percent of the total Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) directly goes to the Barangay SK. This year, some P6.05 billion should go to the youth body in 42,000 barangays nationwide. On average thats P143,000 per barangay SK.

Abolition or sinister plot?

Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon was quick to refute Comelecs opinion of abolishing the SK. On July 5, he said that abolishing the youth body would only give way for older local officials to obtain SKs share of the IRA from the national government.

Without the SK, barangay officials can directly control the whole IRA, thereby giving these corrupt local leaders more funds for themselves, Ridon said.

He also expressed the possibility that funds derived from the abolition of the SK could be used to aid the current administration on the upcoming 2016 elections.

If Comelecs most salient argument in calling for SK abolition is corruption, then we ask: Why single out the SK? Why not abolish the Sangguniang Barangay, and every government institution for that matter including the Comelec? Ridon asked.

SK Controversy

Allegations regarding the corruption within the SK level is not new.

In October 2010, then president of the Sangguniang Kabataan National Federation (SKNF) President Jane Cajes was charged by her constituents of two graft cases before the Ombudsman for misusing SK funds amounting to P90 million.

According to Cajes former aide Manuel Ferdinand De Frio and co-filer Leo Udtahan, the former SKNF head used the funds for multi-million peso procurement of goods and services without bidding of shirts and bags for the SK National Congress in 2008 to 2010. Junior Graft Watch, a local watch dog, had earlier filed a case against Cajes before the the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas for failing to account for P10 million of funds which she received from former President Glorai Macapagal Arroyo.

Cajes, daughter of former Representative Roberto Cajes of the 2nd District of Bohol, has strongly denied the accusations. The case remains unresolved.

Weak performance

A University of the Philippines- Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP-CIDS) report entitled The Impact of Youth Participation in the Local Government Process: The Sangguniang Kabataan Experience in 2007 rated the youth bodys performance as weak.

The SKs performance for the past ten years has been generally weak. This is especially true in terms of coming up with legislations, promoting the development of young people, submitting reports and holding consultations with their constituents, the report said.

A 2010 thesis entitled SKEMA of Youth Leaders: An Investigative Study on the Regulation of the Sangguniang Kabataan by UPs journalism alumni collaborates to these statements stating some youth officials confessed to receive kickbacks from SK projects such as street lighting and basketball leagues.

The same study pointed out that SK receives weak supervision and regulation from the National Youth Commission (NYC) who is supposed to oversee the youth bodys activity. It also concluded that the Department of Interior and Local Government is not aware of the SKs function.

Haunting Tales

The systems weakness probably lies on the influence of older politicians to SK officials.

Im so (sic) underdog. Kapag may sinasabi silang project sa akin, ginagawa ko. But if ako naman ang nagsuggest, nadedelay ang implementation said a former SK chair of Naguilan, La Union.

Other former SK officials admitted that education remains their priority. And as some studies their degrees outside their constituency, their titles are only for namesakes.

Only one youth voter turned out in a barangay in Imus, Cavite during the last SK election day- his vote decided the election results, a teacher who served as the election officer on that precinct revealed.

On the countryside stories of picnics-for-no show remains a usual strategy for SK candidates whose parents are loaded. The point is to keep the oppositions supporter from voting by having them preoccupied - ala field trips.

Despicable We

The SK is flawed. Evidently, those who want it abolished or reformed agreed that the current SK is despicable, to say the least.

Former Senator Aqulino Pimentel, the father of RA 7160 which brought life to the SK has filed during his office a bill to abolish SK.

The SK officials are being criticized, and maybe for good reasons, for acting like traditional politicians who use money, patronage and sometimes, intimidation, to get elected, Pimentel said


Time to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan

INTROSPECTIVE By Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 10, 2013 - 12:00am
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In theory, the Sangguniang Kabataan serves a very noble purpose. It was created to serve as a training ground for the countrys future leaders. It was a place where those who wanted to learn about politics might enter to enrich their skills and learn what it would take to become a future leader of the nation. Over the years though, as what often happens with a once-noble purpose, the Sangguniang Kabataan has been twisted and turned into something that is no longer in unison with its original purpose. It has become as open to graft and corruption as the government itself, and instead of fostering future good leaders, it only seems to teach the youth about the corruption that exists in the government at a very early age. I think that in the last couple of years the purity and purpose of the SK has been something that not everyone believed in anymore. However, it remained important for the youth to feel they have a voice so that they remained interested in their government and how the country was being run. Over the weekend, Caloocan Rep. Edgardo Erice proposed an amendment that would, in effect, abolish the SK, something he had originally proposed while he was in his first term in office. I read about this news over the weekend and I could not help but agree with his line of thinking. It just seems ridiculous to keep an institution around that is no longer serving its purpose. Unless drastic changes are made to return the so-called innocence of the SK, there really is no need to keep it around. Other than just churning out younger corrupt future politicians, the SK has also been known to be the training ground for political dynasties, a place where politician families can put their kids to learn about politics until they are of age and can take over the family business. This seems rather unfair to those who truly want to run for the SK because of a genuine interest in politics and serving the people. They stand no chance running against candidates who are backed by their political families. Its just another place for politicians to gain a stronger foothold. As mentioned by Erice, who himself had been a part of the Sangguniang Kabataan when he was younger, when he was in it there was absolutely no budget allotted for the youth group. The group was pure volunteerism and those who joined did it out of a sincere desire to learn and they worked on programs that directly benefitted them. It was very different from the current way the group is set up.

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They are now a logical first choice target for local politicians seeking a higher position. Because of this SK leaders are truly exposed to the ugly side of politics at a very young age and instead of inspiration are being disillusioned and even jaded by the system instead of striving to find ways to improve it and better it. Of course, the idea of abolishing the SK is also having its fair share of opposition. There are those who claim that the importance of the group is still the same and that is giving the youth a voice in the government and teaching them about politics at a young age thereby helping them understand how the government works. With this mission I wholeheartedly agree, however, that is not what is happening now. The Caloocan Representative went on to say that he understood the importance of having a youth voice and suggested instead the organization of a Barangay Youth Council headed by the youngest elected Sangguniang

Barangay member with four chairmen appointed. They will tackle topics directly related to the youth including education, sports, environment, and culture and the arts. I can see the merits of his suggestions and I think it would be a good first step in cleansing youth politics and keeping them focused on what really matters building a better nation for themselves and their generation. As is, there are both pros and cons to abolishing the SK, but in the end we have to ask ourselves which is the path that will lead to more future growth and development. While the concept of the Sangguniang Kabataan is noble, it is not being executed properly. It cant be denied that it is a training ground for political dynasties and more and more political names are being put in the SK than possible future leaders who may not come from as prestigious a legacy but who are more than capable of serving. Plus, there is a substantial allocation of funds to the SK. If these are not being run correctly, the funds will surely not also be used the best possible way. At the same time though, should the group be abolished, how would the funding be used in a way that it will still serve its intended purpose? That is a serious question that needs to be addressed as well. In an ideal world, the best way to approach this problem is to institute reforms and safeguards. I think the Barangay Youth Council is a good idea in the right direction. The government can also earmark the SK funds for youth related projects in their districts such as school renovations, park and sports center buildings, and arts and culture programs for the youth. I think, in general, that is what these funds are for, but due to the nature of politics sometimes earmarking is not the same as actual budget implementation. Another idea given by the Representative of Quezon City is to continue on the SK but with zero budget. Give the youth their organization to learn about politics and make their suggestions within their barangays but dont include money or budget in the process. He claimed that the SKs corruption comes from its leaders access to public funds. A budget-less SK might be the antidote for such corruption. Its a very radical reform, but something that may also work. Without budget, the SK would return to the purity it formerly had because the young leaders elders politicians, barangay leaders, and etc would not be tempted to interfere. Personally, I am not entirely sure about which road is the best one to take at this point, but I do agree that changes need to be made. This is no longer something we can just ignore. The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to fix. Whether this is something that can be address before the elections in October is something only time will tell. Although for the amendment to just come in now is cutting it quite close though I must admit.


Our youth is the future of our nation, a quote from our national hero Jose Rizal, but what if our youth is already corrupt? Objective and Purpose of the Sangguniang Kabataan To establish Katipunan ng Kabataan as the mainstream government-sponsored organization for the youths in every barangay to serve as the barangay governments partner in identifying programs and projects in their respective communities and in identifying issues and concerns affecting them;

To provide a framework for the improvement in youth governance by strengthening the Katipunan ng Kabataan as the mainstream government sponsored organization and reforming the Sangguniang Kabataan as the policy-making and legislative body of the organization;

To provide the general directions in youth governance at the local level, setting policies and standards and establishing authorities, accountability and responsibility in achieving better performance outcomes;

To define the roles and responsibilities of members of the Katipunan ng

Kabataan and Sangguniang Kabataan officials and federation officers;

To provide resources to the Sangguniang Kabataan and implement youth related programs and projects and other initiatives at the local level;

To make the Katipunan ng Kabataan the most important vehicle for youth participation in the implementation of civic, economic and political activities in their respective localities and for the Sangguniang Kabataan as the training ground for future leaders of this country by inculcating in them basic social values and spiritual values; and

To ensure that the youths receive the kind of focused attention from the national

and local governments. Why should SK be abolished?

"Because it only adds burden to the heavily grown bureaucratic red tape that is plaguing the Philippine society today..It is the same way that Baranggays should be abolished so that the Mayors had something to do... The society become so useless If you keep on creating smaller and smallest units from smaller units..It becomes a burden.

If you will ask how to make the Philippine bureaucracy compressed and save resources on useless politicians who steal money and break the colonialist past of Filipinos, given the country's small territory and population, It should be divided only in 13 federal regions with governors and 13 senators and maybe 26 representatives. Currently, It is very bloated and very inefficient the reason why the country remains the same." -PHILCHN (yahooanswers.com)During the past SK and barangay election I participated on becoming one of the supporters and poll watcher of a barangay chairman candidate to see the dirty secrets behind Sanggunian Kabataan and Barangay elections. As usual, dirty tactics are as planned. The money, the sure voters, the goons, and the guns are already prepared. But one thing I noticed, is that the SK election are more dirty than the barangay. Registered SK voters are being forced to be kidnapped and keep on a hotel until election day. They were given money, cellphones just for their vote. And when election day comes, the drama begins... goons and guns are all over the precinct, when the vote has come to a tie, a missing kid was the only hope to end the tie breaker. And then the opposing camp reacts violently after seeing the missing kid, because of that, one of their goons start shooting on the air. A good thing no one is hurt, but the trauma those kids suffered will mark till they grow up. The election used to be and only for the YOUTH has now become corrupt. Parents teaching their children to buy votes to get elected is a stepping stone to become a great corrupt leader. Most of them are not qualified either to become a youth leader, the salary they receive from the tax payers money are usually used to buy iPhones, beer, a motorcycle, all the things a youth desires... so much for public service. The objectives of an SK member is just a bluff, no one is really serious about public service if you are 17 years old. A teenager will do what a teens would do, like drinking beer, party all night, if you add money to that you are just tolerating their will to have fun and not minding obligations as public servant. Abolishing SK will save the government billions of pesos and will save our children from early corruption training.



The fate of the Sangguniang Kabataan rests on the decision and debates to be conducted by the 16th Congress. th With the commencement of the 16 Congress, congressmen and senators alike have taken sides on the issue regarding the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). As the Barangay and SK Elections are set this coming October 28, policymakers are once again divided on whether the youth council should be retained or abolished entirely. As a group of youth officials aged 15-17 elected every three years during Barangay Elections, the SK creates and carries out programs for the members that belong to the aforementioned age bracket. An eight-member group, it is composed of a chairman and seven members or kagawad. Background The idea of providing youth representation first materialized in 1975 when then President Ferdinand Marcos established the Kabataang Barangay (KB) through Presidential Decree (PD) 684. Then first daughter Imee Marcos was consequently appointed as National Chair. The KB was created to allow the youth to have community involvement, and serve as a means to carry out various projects that cater to them. The KB, however, met criticisms for its inability to gain the youths responsiveness due to their participation in student activist groups. Later, it was abolished under Former President Corazon Aquino who instead established the Presidential Council for Youth Affairs (PCYA) as an alternative. The PCYA, however, served only as a coordinator for youth groups and did not serve as a means of developing future leaders. It was not until 1991 when Republic Act 7160, also known as the Local Autonomy Law or the Local Government Code of 1991, was passed that the SK and the Katipunan ng Kabataan (KK) present today were established formally just as the KB met its official abolition. Subsequently, the first SK elections were held in December 4, 1992. Amendments were made to the Local Government Code regarding the provisions for SK in 2002 with Republic Act No. 9164 which lowered the age qualifications from at most 21 years old to no older than 18, with the minimum age retained at 15 prior to the day of the elections. The law also reset the date of elections to the last Monday of October instead of the original provision of conducting it on the second Monday of May, a time when students would perhaps be freer to vote given that the month of May falls under the summer period of local schools. Needs improvement The SK was created in accordance to the Convention on the Rights of the Child set forth by the United Nations. As stipulated in Article 12, the state shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the rights to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, as well as an avenue to air these views by providing for them representation through an administrative body.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III seeks reform over abolition and believes that the SK framework should be re-evaluated by Congress. In a July 8 article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he cites that the age bracket is a source of dispute since children at that age are not yet prepared to manage responsibilities involving large sums of money. Senator Paulo Benigno Bam Aquino IV agrees with Guingona in seeking only for SK reform and defending the youths need in having a means to express their concerns. Being previously involved with the National Youth Commission, Aquino has had experience working with SK officials, and suggests that the flow of funds to the youth council be looked into by Congress. Meanwhile, Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo disapproves of the abolition of the SK. According to a July 9 article in the Philippine Star, he purported that the removal of the budget for the SK is a better solution since the absence of money would remove the temptation of misusing the funds. Senator Jose Victor JV Ejercito also called for SK reform instead of outright abolishment, exhorting that the latter action is illogical. Ejercito believes that the SK should be reformed to be made more apt to the youth today. School of corruption Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice, known for branding the SK a school of corruption, has filed a bill which seeks to abolish the youth organization. Erice argues that it no longer serves its purpose, and suggests that it be replaced with a Barangay Youth Council, which would instead be headed by the youngest elected councilor that hails from the same barangay. According to a report from Rappler.com, the total internal revenue allotment (IRA) given to barangays for this year is P60.47 billion, and of this, P6.05 billion are allotted for the youth councils in the 42,000 barangays nationwide, which translates to roughly P143,000 for each SK. Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte has also called for the abolition of the SK, but adds that youth representation should be retained. According to Belmonte, there are other local organizations which the youth can take part in such as the Barangay Development Council and the City Development Council, without the need of allotting to them large funds. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has also expressed their interests in abolishing the SK. COMELEC Chair Sixto Brilliantes Jr. stresses that the issue should be resolved as the Commission would begin preparations for the elections on October, advising the President to expedite legislation on the youth organization. Commissioner Lucenito Tagle calls for the immediate action of Congress to abolish the SK stating that the youth council has transformed itself into a breeding ground for political dynasties. Past attempts Multiple bills for the abolition and reform of the SK have been lobbied in Congress, but most have failed to reach legislation. In 2004, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the proponent of the Local Government Code, filed a bill asking for SK reforms that included a revision of the appropriation of funds.

In 2007, Senator Francis Escudero also filed a bill on reforms regarding the fiscal autonomy to be provided to the SK as well as the redefining of qualifications that instead covers those aged between 18 and 21. During the 14th Congress, Pimentel again filed a bill but instead sought the abolition of the SK, arguing that it has not lived up to the peoples expectations. In 2010, former DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo called for the abolition of the SK, citing that the council has failed in effectively carrying out its services as stated in the Local Government Code. He proposed that Section 423 to 439 of the Local Government Code, which covers the provisions for SK, be revoked, stressing that the removal of SK will consequently remove corruption culture among the youth. Student leaders Roy Loyola Jr. (III, AE-LGL), SK Chairman of Barangay 4 of Carmona, Cavite, believes that there are both positive and negative effects to the abolition of SK. On one end, it means that funding received by the SK could be allocated to other national and local endeavors such as projects and the like. While at the same time, there are youth officials and their families that benefit from the salaries and benefits they receive as members of the government, he expla ins. He furthers, however, that there is a need for the SK to be abolish, stressing that the youth officials should place their education first over service. He also adds that the youth has not yet reached a certain maturity for them to fulfill their duties. Not to downplay the youth in any way, I feel that they are too young to handle this big a responsibility. This could make them prone to many factors such as abuse and corruption, among other things, he concludes.


Underlying Issues in SK Governance

SK Watch: Monitoring SK Funds and Functionality In what ways can the youth concretely take part in the civil society movement against corruption? Will they just be mere spectators, unpaid volunteers of multi-million public finance monitoring projects? These two questions have already been raised several times in lots of gathering and functions yet have remained unanswered. But on 2009, just as the national media was giving a lot of attention to the issue of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) abolition, the Partnership for Transparency Fund awarded a grant to an already well-known and acclaimed youth project that promises of addressing the lack of transparency and the massive cases of funds misuse in the SK. This is SK Watch, another initiative of Ecolink Philippines. Problems Being Addressed The SK Watch was a citizen based initiative to curbing corruption in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), a government-sponsored Youth Council established in every barangay (the basic unit of government) of the country to provide young citizens direct role in governance at community level. By law, the SK has a mandatory share in the Barangay Funds which are coming mostly from the government Internal Revenue

Allocation for Local Government Units. Over the years, however, the use of the SK Funds has been punctuated by widespread corruption. The project focused on the four major problem-areas where SK corruption was most prevalent. These are (a) diversion of funds, (b) the so-called Waiting-Shed Syndrome, (c) misuse and misappropriation of SK properties, and (d) overpricing of sports facilities & equipment. ECOLINK coined the waiting-shed syndrome to describe the addiction of SKs around the country to build waiting sheds that hardly benefited communities and were thus eventually laid to waste simply because they were tangible and easy-to-do projects; they were also prone to corrupt practices.