GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 September) — Calling it a vital component of the country’s development, local officials and leaders of various sectors in Region 12 have shot down moves to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) but acknowledged that the system needs an immediate “overhaul.”
Reynaldo Bungubung, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)–Region 12 acting director, said Tuesday majority of local officials, leaders and representative of different sectors in the region that joined the recent consultations conducted by the agency have expressed support to the continuation of the SK mechanism.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
He said the consultations involved 36 participants composed of elected local officials, representatives from national government agencies, non-government organizations, league officers and other local government officials.
The initiative was in compliance with a memorandum issued last Aug. 14 by DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Austere Panadero for the conduct of regional public consultations on the SK, he said.
In a position paper released by DILG-12 as a result of the consultations, Bungubung said the participants were initially divided on the idea whether to reform or abolish the SK.
But majority or 64 percent of them eventually recommended its stay, along with the setting of various reforms, he said.
The official said 33 percent recommended pushing through with the SK elections, which is set on Oct. 25 as part of the scheduled barangay polls, while the reforms are being implemented but “majority or 67 percent unanimously agreed on a postponement.”
Citing the discussions during the consultations, Bungubung said the participants unanimously believed that SK as youth representatives “has not been effective and efficient as a mechanism for promoting youth leadership and engagement.”
From the start of the filing of their candidacies and up to the elections, he said most SK leaders are not aware of the system, their roles as well as the scope and essence of the youth in governance.
He said they noted that SK leaders had failed to perform their mandated roles and functions as representatives of the youth in their communities; youth leaders looked at SK as merely and plainly a position and don’t internalize their responsibilities; the discharge of SK functions is limited especially on the access of funds as they are under the control of the barangay chairs; and, that the SK is being used as breeding ground by some politicians for their political dynasties.
“They believe that the SK is exposed early to dirty politics and becomes a training ground for corruption,” the official said.
Bungubung said among the recommendations agreed during the consultations were the conduct of social preparation for the participating youth prior to the conduct of the elections to inculcate in them the essence of public service and youth leadership.
“The social preparation for the youth will include capacity building on leadership, skills development, values formation and moral recovery to prepare them as leaders of the community. Through this, they will learn to appreciate and internalize what leadership is all about,” he noted in the six-page position paper.
He added that the participants pushed for the changing of the age requirement to 18 to 24 years-old; the conduct of thorough review and perusal of the existing laws and policies governing the SK and make the necessary overhaul on its political system, structure and operations; conduct of regular monitoring and evaluation on the performance of SK leaders; and, include as a requirement the formulation of an SK annual development plan and regular conduct of audit on the utilization of their funds. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)