Meaningful youth participation
By Johanne R. Macob
ONE noteworthy fact I learned from covering several oath-taking ceremonies in previous weeks was the fact that a number of, if not many, elected officials such as mayors, vice mayors, and councilors were once Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials. They credited the SK for the leadership trainings it provided and prepared them for their current posts. Taking the politicians’ words as they are, then SK must be a good thing, indeed. However, recall, too, that many also batted for the abolition of the SK because it failed to provide training for good leadership and instead became a breeding ground for corrupt politicos.
Early this year, instead of totally scrapping SK, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law Republic Act (RA) 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Reform Act, that inteoduced major reforms in the organization. The Act has an anti-political dynasty provision, which as lawmakers noted is the first of its kind in the nation’s history. Further, the age requirement for SK officials has been raised from15-17 years old to 18-24 years old, allowing them to legally enter contracts and thus, be held legally liable. Further, the SK Reform Act mandates SK officials to undergo leadership training and the creation of the Local Youth Development Council.
In a few months time, the SK elections, along with the barangay elections, will be held and the Act will have its first test.
I have nothing against the SK. Though I have been a student leader, I was never a part of the SK. Neither have I participated in SK elections because I did not see the organization’s relevance, at least in our village then. I believe SK’s goals are good but the way the organization ‘worked’ in the past, it was far from what was envisioned. Perhaps, there were responsible SK officials, but I guess more were not. In our barangay, most of those participated in those superficial activities became exclusive for SK officials and members, and excluded youths outside of SK, This I think was not the intention of SK.
I also hope that there’s a provision in the Reform Act that requires SK officials to secure their parents’ recommendations and must have at least maintain passing grades in their respective schools. We may not have the smartest as SK officials, but I believe we need youths who are capable of performing their most basic responsibilities well and creditably.
If they are not trustworthy sons or daughters and students- a basic value of today’s youths – I don’t see how they can become effective young leaders.
The government will be investing a lot in our youth through the SK again. It is my prayer that those who will hold positions will take it upon themselves to assume their responsibilities faithfully, and that it becomes a training ground of outstanding leaders, and not a breeding ground for trapos.
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