BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The country’s student governments want the abolition of the “non-performing” Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth councils), now that Congress has begun deliberations on the fate of the barangay (village) and SK elections scheduled next month.
In a September 5 manifesto issued on Tuesday at the close of the National Leadership Training for Student Government Officers at Teachers Camp here, the student leaders said they would launch a letter-writing campaign to draw attention to their appeal.
Joey Pelaez, executive director of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Center for Students and Co-Curricular Affairs, said government must ensure that all youth go to school, a mandatory state service SK officers discard in exchange for salaries and perks offered by weekly city, municipal and provincial council sessions.
Benralph Yu, president of the Region XI Federation of Student Governments, said they do not want the October elections to push through at all to enable government to reallocate the money meant for the polls to augment the budget for public education.
This was not the first appeal for SK abolition, the students said. But their teachers said this was the first position on the SK coming from DepEd.
Yu said student councils are better equipped to represent the country’s youth than the SK, a carryover from the Kabataang Barangay (KB or village youth) of the martial law period.
Student leaders said the student councils could begin community work to make up for the vacuum created by the SK’s abolition.
The manifesto, signed by 6,000 high school students and teachers, said the SK elections have “initiated our young early into the ways of traditional politics because of the dirty tricks, vote-buying, kidnap-for-votes or kidnap-not-vote tactics and mudslinging employed by their relatives and parents, who are themselves politicians, and their political patrons.”
But Yu said the student governments have not compiled evidence to prove that the SK has become corrupt.
“The SK has lost the bases of its existence with its miserable performance or non-performance to pursue its mandate for 15 years to develop the youth for service, patriotism and leadership, increase their social consciousness and enhance their participation in nation-building,” the manifesto said.
“The programs and projects being implemented by the SK are too insignificant if not utterly irrelevant, consisting mostly of construction of waiting sheds and signposts that conspicuously bear and perpetuate the SK officials’ names, and wasting precious resources that could have funded more important and urgent concerns such as public education.”