ABOLISH the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)? The proposal is the latest twist in the saga that is the holding, or non-holding, of the barangay and SK elections in October.

This development shows how far we have gone since some officials of the national organization of barangay captains suggested the postponement of the polls (translation: extension of their terms of office).

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Wily politicians took the hint. After campaigning in the May 10 elections, they indeed needed time and money to prop up the candidacies of their people in October. So they intensified the push for poll postponement, wisely using worries about the country’s budget deficit like parents would use their kids’ fear of ghosts to prevent them from going out of the house at night.

Vice President Jejomar Binay later upped the ante with a “novel” proposal: abolish the barangay and SK elections altogether and have mayors appoint the barangay and SK officials in their turfs. Waste of money, the long-time Makati City mayor said of the political exercise.

As if that wasn’t enough, in came Pre-sidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announcing President Noynoy Aquino’s preference, which is to proceed with the holding in October only of the barangay polls. The SK? It will have to be abolished before October. In reports, the SK was described as a “Marcos-era creation.”

Not quite correct. What Ferdinand Marcos created through Presidential Decree 684 issued in 1975 was the Kabataang Barangay (KB). The SK is a creation of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

While the KB and the SK are both youth organizations, the KB setup was different. KB chairpersons sit as ex-officio members only in the barangay councils. They don’t become members of the municipal/ city council or provincial board like SK chairpersons do. That’s too much responsibility given.

So the SK’s failings are not Marcos’s fault. Part of the blame should be on those who conceptualized the SK. The bigger blame should be on trapos.

The seeming disconnect between theory (training the youth in governance) and practice is the result of politicians dipping their politically dirty fingers into SK affairs.

Left alone, SK leaders may have had achieved the intent of its creators. The day the SK became instruments of politicians in controlling local politics and building political dynasties was the day the SK became damaged goods.

So am I in favor of its abolition? Not quite. If the adjective preceding “abolition” is “total” then I won’t go for it. I favor the stand of many well-meaning critics of the SK, which is for reforming the youth organization’s structure and functions. Such youth group may longer be called SK.

The youth must be given a role and need to be trained in governance. The sector, if empowered, can help strengthen the country’s democratic setup. But to succeed, the youth organization replacing the SK should be effectively shielded from the shameless politicking of trapos.

I reckon there are a variety of proposals on how to go about this. I favor a return to the KB concept of limiting to barangay affairs the youth group’s participation in governance.

To let youth leaders sit in the municipal/city councils and provincial boards is to invite trapos to use them as instruments in political power play in their turfs.

(khanwens@yahoo.com/ my blog: cebuano.wordpress.com)