Sangguniang Kabataan: Is it worth it?
As I was going through my usual travelling routine, which includes riding buses and sometimes, jeepneys, I have seen these guys remove some parts of what used to be the lanterns of last year, and they are to remake them into "new" lanterns for Christmas of 2012. While observing them, I also have seen that these lanterns are one of the so-called projects of the Sangguniang Kabataan of that municipality. Reminiscing on what I know about the organization, I came to a realization that may or may not be answered. Is the Sangguniang Kabataan meant just for these things?
The Sangguniang Kabataan, or widely known as SK, is an organization here in the Philippines that is aimed to give the youth a voice in the government, and is also meant to unite the youth of a community towards responsible citizenship. It is made up of an SK Chairman, and is supported by his/her SK Kagawad (council members). The SK Chairman gets a salary for his service, while the kagawads do not, and depends on the chairman if he/she shares something to his council members. Moreover, there is also an allotment for the organization in the local funding, which, according to sources, is 10% of the total funds being collected in the local government.
I once tried being a campaign manager for a group of youths aiming for the positions. All I wanted is to have a clean fight with other competitors, and our candidates also agreed to do the same.
I had several plans to suggest to our candidates if ever we won the race. Fund raising for the beautification of school libraries, a tree planting project that will involve the youth, health seminars, establishment of a mini-school for those out-of-school youth, and many more. We had several thoughts that we plan to push through if we are given the chance. And that, we wanted to achieve without doing something wrong.
However, as time goes by, we hear some things that bothered us most - a candidate giving bribes to other youth, in cash and in kind, in order for them to vote for him/her. There are also speculations that "the candidate" also offered some things to our own candidates, who soon left our slate and joined his/hers instead. Though we had no concrete proof, there are people who say that they are true, as they have received these "blessings" from the accused candidate.
As the voting ended, it is already expected that that candidate will win. Although we are not able to counter what he/she has done, one thing is for sure - we played the game with no guilt or dirty conscience. We felt happy that we have successfully joined the race and have gained valuable experience.
However, one thing still bothers me til this time - is vote-buying already a "business" in a thing that involves the youth? Is this somewhat a "genetic" thing that is passed from the ancestors to their offspring? Is this what's running on the minds of the probably future politicians of this country?
I have never heard of the organization while I was a youth. Not literally, but figuratively. I saw their lanterns, I saw their banners when there is a basketball league in our community, as well as their advertisements when they thought of conducting a one-time feeding program to the poor and needy. However, I never felt its presence especially their purpose in uniting the youth. Now, as an adult, moreover a taxpayer, I am asking myself..
Is it worth it? Is the organization worth the tax that we are paying?
There are threats to abolish the organization. There are several reports of corruption, as well as issues of ineffectiveness of the organization and its chairmen. Several people say that it is a waste in government funds. The worst thing is, the one who supported the establishment of SK is the one who also wanted to abolish it. However, despite these efforts, the organization still stands strong. The government still wants the youth to have a voice in the community.
Wait, what voice?
One of my friends (who happens to be a youth too) is an officer of an organization, which is then planning to conduct a symposium to gather all their members in our province. However, they are looking for "foster families" which are to adopt a member for 2-3 days, as these members come from different places. She then asked the SK Chairman for help, to ask for families which could possibly adopt these members. Surprisingly, the chairman who promised to help the youth if he/she wins, declined to help, as well as did not answer my friend's calls or messages. My friend then came from house to house and asked for families to adopt one of their members.
With a simple help being declined, how can we assure ourselves that the organization is really doing its job? Are they just for creation of lanterns during Christmas, sponsoring basketball tournaments, and creation of trash cans?
If I am to be asked if I wanted the organization abolished or not, I think that I would agree in abolishing the organization. Have another position in the barangay council, which is aimed for the benefit of the youth. Have someone experienced enough lead the youth. Have someone whom the youth can call their "kuya" or "ate". This way, there can really be a "youth's voice" in the community and in the country.
This post of mine may sound as negative as it can, and may offend others. Bear in mind that these problems may not occur in your own community, or even be the exact opposite. If you've done what is asked of you, then, I humbly applaud and bow down for the things that you have done and have promised to do.
What's sad is, it is one of the realities that we need to accept in our country, that there is a possibility of someone "leading" misleading. I firmly believe that the youth is really the hope of the Philippines, but if what's destroying the government's system is already imbued in the minds and hearts of these officers, then what would happen in the future?
Believe it or not, I still believe that the organization can really help the barangay IF the officers do their jobs well. The youth are given a lot of talents, creativity, as well as funding to think of projects that can further help the youth and the community. They also have the ability to unite the youth and guide them towards a better adulthood. Moreover, it is not only the job of the officers, but also of the members that are being served.
We were once the youth of these country, and we are still striving to be the hope of our country. And now, we are asking you to do the same. You're not just limited to lanterns, sports competitions, and trash bins. You can do something better. With all these allegations, issues, and efforts to abolish your organization, please let us know that the youth can also make a difference, and the adults are wrong.
Move. Serve. Lead. Make it worth it.