Article 15 of the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child, entitled, “Freedom of Association”, provides for the
establishment of what we know today as Sangguniang Kabataan. The convention
purposely strived for the right of the youth to organize and to be represented.
Sangguniang Kabataan traces back its history when then-president Ferdinand
Marcos issued Presidential Decree 684 which provided for the creation of
Kabataang Barangay, its predecessor. This Kabataang Barangay (KB) mandated the
youth to participate in all government activities be it local or national for
their development as future leaders of the country. The first national chairman
of the KB was Imee Marcos, the daughter of Ferdinand Marcos.
The projects of SK are evidently for the benefit of
the youth. However, these projects need to be funded. But where do SK officials
get their funds for the projects? There are only two answers. First, the SK
officials’ efforts to solicit in the community with little probability to get
the actual funds for the project. Second is the SK officials’ request for funds
from a higher level, the Barangay. This now becomes problematic for the SK.
While most of us focus on the transparency and accountability of public
officials, we usually forget to include those in lower positions. Some experts
say that the SK becomes the training ground for corruption. This happens when
the SK requests for funds from the Barangay, and the Barangay in turn request
from the City council level an amount higher than what the SK has originally
requested. But if the Barangay gives the actual amount to the SK, the SK may
spend less or not at all. We can give them the benefit of the doubt.
The SK also becomes a breeding ground for political dynasties. This happens when
Barangay or city/municipal officials endorse their sons or daughters for posts.
Such was the case when Ferdinand Marcos made his daughter Imee head the
Kabataang Barangay when it was established.
These two major problems are among the reasons why some of the youth want to
abolish the SK. “It serves as training ground for corruption and political
dynasty”, said Dannielle Trinidad, a student-leader and UP Public Administration
major. “The SK is a breeding ground for corruption. No impact in society”, said
Ervin Aroc, a Communication Arts major.
The keyword is corruption. Many of the youth are now more aware of government
issues especially corruption, and are advocating for transparency and
accountability. And I, being in the youth sector, also want the Sangguniang
Kabataan abolished. In our barangay, there has been no significant projects for
youth development. It is only during basketball tournaments when teenagers are
in their jerseys and shorts do the SK become visible. The SK has also become a
popularity contest just like during high school student council elections. The
one who has a name will win. The one with good looks, who dress fashionably
during campaigns and speak like government officials will surely win. Poor are
those candidates who will not win even though they have good leadership skills.
Understandably, current and former SK officials do not want the SK to be
abolished. They all say that SK is a training ground for future leaders.