By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal
SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. yesterday said he supports the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, noting that it no longer serves its purpose as a training ground for youth leaders and as means for them to be involved in the community.
He cited persistent reports that officials of SK in various barangays have neglected their duties, although they continue to get allowances.
However, he said an alternative mechanism should be created to ensure continued youth representation in local government units.
In several cases, the SK chairmen and other officials are oftentimes not around in their respective towns because they are studying in colleges and universities in Metro Manila and elsewhere, Pimentel said.
But the worst cases are the SK leaders who commit corrupt practices, unable to resist the temptation to which they are exposed in handling public funds that are entrusted to them.
“Given these unsavory reports, we should now consider the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan and replace it with some other mechanism,” Pimentel said.
“While I am for abolition of the SK, it is not right that we should dissolve it without a replacement because I believe that the youth should not be deprived of representation in the government,” he added.
He said even some mayors whose sons or daughters are SK officials have endorsed the scrapping of the SK because it is not delivering any services while continuing to receive funding from the government for its operations.
Pimentel said he is disturbed over reports that SK officials are tempted to take advantage of their positions for monetary gains due to the absence of serious efforts to prevent fund irregularities.
“We should not tolerate a situation where they are exposed to or susceptible to wrongdoing especially since they are still in their formative years,” he said.
But he maintained his stand against the deferment of the barangay and SK elections from Oct. 29 to the second Monday of 2009 as contained in a bill already approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.
He said this is probably the last elections to be conducted for SK in view of the snowballing move for its abolition in both chambers of Congress.
Since the proposed postponement will automatically result in an additional two-year extension of the term of incumbent SK officials, Pimentel said this is a “ridiculous move” because practically all of them are past the age bracket -- 15 to 17 years old -- for youth and therefore legally speaking, no longer qualified for the posts.