MANILA - Akbayan Youth leaders and members on Tuesday held a protest in front of the Senate, calling on lawmakers not to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for the third time.
Rafaela David, chairperson of Akbayan Youth, said that a third postponement of the SK polls sends a dangerous message that youth participation in governance is optional.
The group said the Senate committee on local government recommended in its report to postpone the SK Elections to October 30, 2017.
"Hindi ito ang una o pangalawa, kung 'di pangatlong postponement na ng SK election. Nagpapakita ito ng mensahe na ang youth participation ay optional at pwedeng isangtabi,'' David said.
(This is the third that the SK elections will be postponed. This shows that youth participation in governance is being considered optional.)
''Nagiging bad habit ito ng mga mambabatas na kung hindi convenient ay i-delay na lang ang Sangguniang Kabataan," David said.
(It is becoming the habit of lawmakers to postpone the SK elections out of convenience.)
The youth group emphasized that the postponement is a ''de facto'' abolition of the SK.
Since its first postponement in 2013, SK seats in each barangay have been vacant since there is a no hold-over rule unlike in the case of barangay officials, David said.
David noted that with the planned postponement of the SK polls, calls to abolish the SK have surfaced once more, coming from House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez no less.
Alvarez, nais buwagin ang mga barangay kagawad at SK
The youth leaders also lambasted comments that belittle the youth's contribution as "useless" to governance.
David said the country has had many youth leaders who once served their respective communities well through the SK.
"Yung mga ganyang statement ay misinformed and dangerous. Pinapakita lang nyan na may pagmamaliit sa kontribusyon ng kabataan sa gobyerno," David said.
(Such statements are misinformed and dangerous. It shows that the contributions of the youth are being belittled.)
"Ang SK ay isang institusyon na nag-rerecognize na ang kabataan ay partner sa pagbabago… Malaki ang pagpapahalaga natin sa kontribusyon ng mga kabataan, throughout history ang mga bayani natin galing sa kabataan" she adds.
(The SK as an institution recognizes the youth as partners for change. The country recognizes the contributions of the youth. Our heroes were also once young people.)
The youth groups are seeking the support of senators in ensuring the full implementation of the SK Reform Act.
Akyaban Youth said that instead of pushing through with the planned postponement, it hopes that legislators would put their weight behind the full implementation of the reformed SK and show their commitment to the youth.