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Who Cares About Elections of Sangguniang Kabataan? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by VOICEMASTER, Philippines Mar 3, 2003
Human Rights   Opinions
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THEY'RE over-aged.

A majority of the sitting Sangguniang Kabataan(SK) members in the country's 14,943 barangays nationwide are older than the 15-21 age bracket for membership in the Katipunan ng Kabataan (KK) or the youth assembly in the barangays.

Their terms were extended during the tenure of President Fidel Ramos. And in 1999, the SK election was postponed to 2002.

Now, it looks like another postponement is in the air. There are moves in the House of Representatives to postpone the SK elections next year to 2004 ostensibly due to the financial crisis.

President Macapagal has endorsed the postponement of the barangay election from May 2002 and hold it simultaneously with the presidential election in 2004. SK elections are held two months after the barangay polls.

The national government appears to have an indifferent attitude to an issue now dividing the youth.

“The first time the SK elections were postponed, there was one generation of the youth who missed the opportunity to be SK members,” said Mabel Villarica-Mamba, presidential adviser on youth affairs and chair of the National Youth Commission (NYC).

Mamba said most of the six NYC commissioners personally favor the holding of SK elections as scheduled next year.

NYC Commissioner-at-large Paolo Benigno Aquino confirms that the “average age” of incumbent SKs is now 24, most of them married and concerned with their own careers and livelihood.

“The election should push through because the current batch has already been extended in 1999 and is now overaged,” Aquino said.

Rep. Ace Barbers, chair of the House committee on accounts, said probably about 90 percent of the SK members are over the age limit set forth in Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

RA 7160 mandated that every barangay should have an SK, elected by an assembly of youth living in the barangay, 15 to 21 years of age, and registered in the barangay list.

A youth who is 21 years old on the day of the election is allowed to run and serve his or her full term unless removed for cause.

Aquino said that during the Pambansang Ugong ng Kabataan, a national youth consultative assembly convened by the NYC and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the SK emerged as the “top concern of the youth.”

“Many see the need for reforms in the SK,” Aquino said.

Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra, who had expressed concern about the uncertainty of the SK elections being held next year, also noted the need for elections.

“Many SK leaders have matured in their positions, their ages no longer qualify them for membership in the body. In many areas, clearly a changing of the guards is needed,” Mitra said in a recent statement.

Richard Alvin Nalupta, SK National Federation president, said that during its convention last October, a majority of the SK federation heads voted in a straw ballot to extend the elections.

Nalupta said he did not participate in the straw ballot so as not to preempt the results, but said that he personally believes the elections should push through.

“Personally, I'm pushing for elections next year so that there will be new blood in the SK. We (incumbents) should now graduate. There's life after SK,” said Nalupta, who sacrificed two years of his law study in UP for the SK.

Elected in 1996, Nalupta is now 25 years old. He has been able to institute reforms in the management and utilization of SK funds and come up with the KK and SK constitution and by-laws.

Raymund Fernandez, SK chair of Barangay Highway Hills in Mandaluyong City who is hailed as one of the best SKs in the country, also pushes for the elections next year.

“Our projects may be good but the mandate belongs to the youth,” said Fernandez, who founded a physical rehabilitation clinic that gives charity treatments to disabled clients in the community and referrals from big hospitals.

North Cotabato Rep. Lala Santos, who sprang from the SK ranks, also bats for elections next year.

“We should have the elections next year not because the present SK members are not good but they are over 21 now. The SK could also use some fresh ideas,” Santos said.

Camillia Trinidad-Orense, SK chair of Barangay San Lorenzo in Makati City, echoes the sentiment of the majority of SK members who want to remain in office.

“To proceed with the elections is OK but it would be better for us (to postpone it) to fully realize our plans for our respective communities,” Orense said.
Orense said some SK members are still in the midst of important projects that they would want to leave behind as their legacy to the youth.

Orense said she and some like-minded SKs have no problem juggling time between their studies, families or careers and the SK.

“This is the life that I want,” said Orense, whose family has been in public service. Sen. Joker Arroyo is a maternal grandfather.

Nalupta said those who voted for postponement of the elections during the SK straw balloting cited the lack of funds and the absence of a Commission on Elections resolution necessary to prepare for the campaign.

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SK Election Postponement
Retchie | Aug 8th, 2010
To whom it may concern; Good day! For me it's a good idea to move the election for SK and extend the range of age from 15 to 21. We should make our SK chairman to be matured enough to guide our youth for them to become productive in our community.

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