25 Centavos’ Worth The SK dilemma: Abolish or amend?

“With great power, comes great responsibility” – this cliché yet profound quote came out of the pages of one of Marvel’s most influential comic books, The Amazing Spiderman. The adjective “Amazing” would not have been fixed before his name for fifty years if it weren’t true.

These words come into play when talking about the government, specifically the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). For those who do not know what the SK is, it is a congregation of the nation’s youth who are elected into office much like the members of the senate or the local government units.

What the Sangguniang Kabataan does is they formulate projects and programs that are aimed at youth development and nation building. It also gives these young officials leadership training for their future endeavors.

Recently, there have been talks and debates in the Senate and the House of Representatives that concerns the Sangguniang Kabataan. Lawmakers have been split in two: those who are for the institution’s abolishment, and those that want to save it through ratification.

The Sangguniang Kabataan, though having its merits and on paper is a testament to the desire of the youth in nation building, obviously has problems, and one such problem is the minimum age requirement to be deemed eligible to run for a position in the federation. The age is pegged at 15 years of age while the maximum is at 18 years of age. This is something to be worried about because these officials are just two years into their adolescence and are still starting out their teen years.

Given a responsibility as prodigious as coming up with projects for a town or a city’s young population or maybe handling the budget of the federation for the next year  could affect a young person’s psyche. For one thing, the fact that it is a major task to handle could render the youth official, especially the younger ones, overwhelmed. It has happened before and it could render the very foundation and objectives of the SK moot.

Running away from the said responsibility may also stem from this.  Teenagers would tend to avoid responsibility and go for comfort and pleasure. This is dangerous when what they have to do requires the utmost attention, dedication and passion.

Another dilemma these young officials have to think about would be balancing their education or their work with being a barangay official. Education, at this time and age, is considered very important, especially in a developing country like the Philippines.

Parents would send their children to school in the hopes that one day they will be successful or at the very least be able to secure a job. The government is obviously a viable area of employment but the problem being that they should concentrate on getting an education first before thinking of joining the government.

However, since most elected SK officials are working in the government whilst going to school, it adds more pressure and stress for them. At times, they have to choose which is more important, either school or this commitment they have taken upon. They may choose school, but let’s also face the fact that many SK officials have taken up the mantle of the government official and have made it all they are.

This may seem all well and good but what will happen when their three-year tenure is up? Will they continue running for office in a higher order as they are no longer qualified at the SK level? Or will they continue their education, which may have been hindered by their work in government?

The possession of power can make one prone to abusing it, a fairly apparent problem. Teenage officials with a significant amount of money is quite possibly a recipe for disaster. Note that the word possibly is used because it cannot be generalized to all, but it is quite probable for some. Funds could easily be used in inappropriate ways: for projects only benefiting those in office, programs for friends, and maybe even giving solicitations that aren’t part of the objective of the federation.

Corrupt acts by other dirty officials may also play a part in the petition to abolish the establishment. Greedy barangay captains, councilors and other officials may take away 10 percent of the barangay funds allocated for SK use from the young officials without them knowing at all. This is all very dangerous.

These are just some of the many reasons why the current SK system must go. It is apparent that people would either want it abolished or reformed, but there are some who even want it to stay the same way.  The real bottom line is that whether it is abolished or reformed, the current SK constitution and the system now, must not stay. The laws must be stricter, in order to protect these teenage leaders and at the same time protecting the people from the unregulated potential of their power.



Roy Loyola Jr.

By Roy Loyola Jr.

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