Moral victory

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Friday, March 7, 2014


THE late Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan used to tell us that what is legal is not necessarily moral. Or, if I may add, human.

As a lawyer I agree that the residents of sitio San Miguel in Barangay Apas should go in the light of a final and executor court decision evicting them from the lots that they are occupying. As a human being I am rooting for them and praying that the demolition of their houses will hit a snag.

It seems that my prayers have been heard. The demolition was discontinued on the second day for the unlikeliest of reasons: a member of the demolition team was caught in the act of looting one of the affected houses.

The temporary reprieve may not last long and it is possible that by the time you read this, all the houses have already been reduced to ruins to pave way for the private landowner to take over. As I’ve said, the judgment of eviction has become final and all legal arguments in favor of stopping demolition have already been addressed.

Still, a moral victory of sorts has been scored by the residents and I can only cheer for them even as I wish their lawyers well in their search for new, not rehashed, and valid and legal ground or grounds to stay, if not completely stop, the demolition.

In the meantime, the thief who managed to sneak into the demolition team should first receive a good pat on the back for his act of “accidental heroism” before he is locked up in jail for the petty crime.

Alas for him, he cannot opt for hospital confinement or incarceration in a special jail. That privilege is reserved for former presidents and, if you’ll pardon the redundancy, big-time thieves.

***

National Youth Commissioner Erwin Andaya said in Cebu recently that they are opposed to the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and will push for reforms in the organization instead.

I know Erwin. He was one of the most active youth leaders of the Aquino campaign in 2010. At that time, he was still studying at the University of Cebu owned by lawyer Augusto Go.

Unlike Erwin, I am for the complete scrapping of the SK, which, by the way, traces its roots to the martial law days. As an experiment, the SK is a proven failure, if not a total disaster. What has the organization contributed to good governance? Absolutely nothing.

What the SK had become was as a laboratory for corruption. It’s not the fault of the young, in fairness to them. It was the adults who taught and trained them. SK elections had become costly because of rampant vote-buying.
Political families ensured their dynasty’s future by placing young family members as heads of the youth organization.

No, Erwin. The organization is beyond tweaking. It has to be abolished unless you can find a way to insulate the SK from the pernicious influence of corrupt older politicians.

Raising the age bracket of SK members from 15 – 17 to 18 – 24 does not guarantee anything other than that we will have older juveniles sponsoring basketball tournaments, excursions and discos if they’re not too busy exchanging the last chismis.

Let’s encourage the youth to actively participate in public affairs. But the way to go is not through the SK. Experience has proven that a government-mandated youth organization will not work. Let them organize on their own. Who knows, without their’ elders’ interference, they can actually become relevant.

One of the best things that happened to the youth was the cancellation of the SK elections. Let us leave it that way.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 07, 2014.

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