CEBU, Philippines – “Make change come in the Sangguniang Kabataan.”
This is the message of youth groups in a press conference on Wedneday, July 27, for their fellow youth, urging them to register for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections before the deadline on July 30.
This ongoing registration for SK elections is the first one after the R.A. 10742 or the SK Reform Law was signed on January 15, 2016.
The SK Reform Law seeks to implement various reforms in the barangay youth arm, which has long been criticized for being inefficient and corrupt. (READ: Why the Sangguniang Kabataan needs an overhaul)
The youth groups, convened as the SK Reform Coalition, said that SK is the first elected body in the country to implement an anti-dynasty policy.
Other reforms introduced into the new SK law is the increase in the voting age to 15-30 years old from the previous 15-24 years old. Also, the age of those who can now run for SK chairperson is now 18-24 years old. This is to allow the SK chairperson to legally sign financial documents.
“We are reminding the youth that the first step to change is committing to vote,” said Chatch Calderon of Akbayan Youth. “Registering before the deadline is important to make change happen for the SK Elections on October.”
Calderon added that it is important for the youth to actively participate in the elections to push forward different youth advocacies in the barangays.
Comission on Elections (Comelec) offices all over the country are accepting registrants for SK until July 30. Young voters who registered in the previous elections do not need to register again.
SK election was suspended in 2010 and its return has been anticipated by youth groups who believe it is a relevant avenue for youth participation in government.
Youth groups in Cebu like the First Time Voters Network, Akbayan Youth, Youth for Sustainable Change, Cebu Youth Ambassadors, among others, are doing several campaigns in the barangays by giving forums, going house-to-house and doing radio interviews.
“It is important to include and involve the youth in nation-building in order to create responsive and representative governance,” according to Ed Arellano of First Time Voters Network – Cebu
He also added that this will empower the youth to contribute as individuals in the nation’s well-being. The SK is a sign of a healthy political system that espouses a government for all.
In the last 3 years, the SK polls were postponed thrice. It was scheduled for October 2013, but was postponed to February 2015, then moved to April 2015, until it was finally rescheduled to October 2016, in sync with the next barangay polls. – Rappler.com