Activating the youth

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By Giano M. Libot

I have issues

Saturday, March 29, 2014


YOUTH participation in local governance was initially heralded as the good stepping stone for future political leaders, it was thought that the introduction to early participation to policy making, legislative decisions and supported initiatives would immerse the youth into early good practices, something of which would have ideally benefited greater society.

In a study by the Unicef on the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), they explain that ideally, the Philippines was way ahead its Asian neighbors when it came to activating the youth’s involvement. “Young people have tremendous creativity and energy that can be tapped to promote development and help ensure that they achieve their fullest potential.

“Perhaps, it is enshrined best that we have Republic Act No. 7160 to enshrine this as a right to form a youth based government, complete with funding and a system of nationwide election to cement this mandate.

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But sadly, since 1991, the SK has transformed itself from an institution with potential to an institution filled with a mirror of controversy much like its adult government, the creativity and energy that would have allowed the youth to revitalize government filled with old men and women have allegations of corruption, vote buying and even horrible enrichment schemes that been thrown at its candidates and the people in position.

Then enter house bill 185 that seeks to abolish the SK. This year, the talks for its abolishment have never been more louder, that even the Commission on Elections lead have resurrected calls for its review and eventual abolition.

The question now is has the involvement of the youth in local governance become a failed experiment? In the midst of the SK chaos, and at the very heart of city of Cagayan de Oro itself a new birthed initiative comes into fruition, the ORO YOUTH COUNCIL, formed under an umbrella of different youth organizations. And while I don’t think it presents itself as counter proposal to the SK, I do believe it could shape up as a viable alternative outside the gridlock of the SK debate. It remains consistent with the principle of representation, and while it does not enjoy the direct mandate of a direct election, it replaces this with a transfer system of representation, relying on individual youth organization initiatives to form their own respective mandates.

There is still little yet to be said of this move from the Oro Youth, clearly we will only begin to see this a few years later as to whether it is successful or not, but one thing is certain, the youth still want to get involved, and although the SK has been riddled with fatigue and distrust, the institution and its practices have not prevented the nation’s youth from still participating in their own way.

Why should we stop them?

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 29, 2014.

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