Youth leaders are set to march on Wednesday, September 18, at the House of Representatives to show their strong opposition following the Senate’s approval of the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections without hold over, which they believe will lead to the abolition of the youth council.
Senate on Monday has approved the Senate Bill 1186, postponing the SK elections this October with a 19-0 vote.
The nationwide march, which was organized by the Genuine SK Reform Movement and Sangguniang Kabataan Central Luzon, will be participated by different youth leaders from Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga and Cavite and will be conducted at the South Wing Gate, Batasan Hills in Quezon City.
It aims to show their condemnation over the House Bill which proposed to postpone the SK election on October 28, 2013 to 2016, vacating the youth councils without representatives.
SK Central Luzon Convener Noli Soriano told Manila Bulletin Online that while the march seems too hasty, it is because they could not afford to wait and watch the Congress try to abolish the Youth Council.
Soriano also opposed the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) proposal prohibiting the incumbent SK officials to ‘holdover’ their position while the election is postponed.
With this, positions of youth leaders in the country will be vacated, leaving the youth with no representatives until the elections is conducted in 2016, he said.
Adrian Gonda, SK Federation Chairman of Calumpit, Bulacan who confirmed his attendance, stressed that while the youth council is hounded by corruption, it will not be eradicated by its abolition but only by reform.
“The abolition of SK is not the solution to end corruption, and they can’t generalize the whole youth council. It is stated in the constitution that there should be a representation of the youth, and its (SK) abolition will break that (constitution),” he said in an interview with Manila Bulletin Online.
Gonda, a recipient of The Outstanding Sangguniang Kabataan Award (TOSKA) in Bulacan and Central Luzon in 2012, believes that it is vital make the voices of the youth be heard in the society.
“We should be heard. Our voices are important,” he added.
National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Leon Flores III has expressed its support on the reform of the youth council, and opposes its abolition.
“The NYC has been consistent in its support for SK reform. We cannot strip 30 million youth of their due representation and voice at the barangay and Sanggunian,” he told Manila Bulletin Online.
Flores said that while he acknowledges the “challenge and criticisms” facing the SK, he said that the NYC trusts the Congress that it could “creatively address these (issues) by putting in the appropriate reforms,” he said.
He said that the NYC will support the postponement of the SK election if it will have a holdover.
“To postpone an election without hold over, ergo, no youth service and representation would also be unacceptable- it is dis empowering the youth,” he added.