Wednesday July 18, 2018

Editorial: Watch out for the SK federation polls

Editorial Cartoon by John Gilbert Manantan

THE current verbal exchange between the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) and Barug Team Rama over the results of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections is focused on who has the majority in the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC). The claim is that 49 BOPK-allied barangay chiefs won as against 31 for Barug Team Rama allies.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella of Barug Team has already floated the possibility that the next ABC president would be a BOPK ally, which would mean that the next ex-officio member of the Cebu City Council representing the barangay councils would no longer be Barug Team Rama’s Philip Zafra, even if he wins his reelection bid.

That’s one vote taken away from Barug Team Rama in the city council and one vote added to the BOPK. In a city council where Barug Team Rama’s majority is a slim 9-8, including Labella’s vote, that development would mean the BOPK will again have the majority. But that does not take into account the results of the SK polls and who got the majority of the winning SK chairpersons in the city.

The president of the SK Federation in the city will also function as ex-officio member of the city council. If the SK president is a Barug Team Rama ally, it will even out the BOPK gain in the ABC if the James Cuenco situation is resolved in favor of Barug Team Rama.

This should present a worrisome possibility, one that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should watch out for. We have actually seen the worst in the past when two major political parties moved to influence the election of the officials of the SK Federation. That experience corrupted the young minds of the SK chairpersons.

One of the features of the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 (Republic Act 10742) is its anti-political dynasty provision, which is obviously meant to peel the SK away from the partisan politicking of their elders. The SK concept was reformed precisely to shield the SK leaders from the bad influences of politicians.

The law apparently did not prevent traditional politicians from dipping their fingers into the SK polls and most probably won’t prevent them from manipulating the elections of the officers of the various SK federations. This is rather unfortunate.