Youthspeak: On the SK Reform Law and the upcoming SK elections

By CHRISTIAN DAVE RUZ*

What is the KPL’s take on the SK reform law?

The passing of the consolidated SK reform bills into RA 10742 in 2015 is a product of the collective effort of the youth in advancing genuine politics of change. It was born out of the criticisms how SK was transmogrified as breeding grounds for next generations of “trapo”. For the past years, SK has been plagued with issues of corruption, incompetence and inefficiency. With that, Kabataan Partylist is one of those who has vigorously campaigned and filed house bills for necessary reforms in the SK. However, critique on the approved SK reform law is still at hand as it lacks clear provisions for its landmark reforms – the confusing age-bracket that has caused number of aspiring youth be disqualified for SK, the anti-political dynasty provision that sets minimal restrictions making it easy to be circumvented and the lack in its provision on filing up vacancies.

What is KPL’s take on the COMELEC’s claim that the vacancies and “low” youth participation in the 2018 SK election can be due to the anti-political dynasty provision of RA 10742?

To say that the vacancies and low youth participation for the upcoming SK elections is because of the anti-political dynasty provision of the SK reform law, is not just narrow and unfounded but is reflective on how patronage politics is still being tolerated, if not promoted, by the people in power (disgustingly, the COMELEC itself) – even how indirectly it could be.

Among many factors, the lack of exhaustive information campaign and the multiple postponement of the SK election brought about this all-time low youth participation in the upcoming May 2018 SK elections. For one, it is quite unsurprising that only 7 barangays in Baguio City have its complete SK candidates given that a lot of youth may have “lost their interest”, or may have not even took the upcoming elections seriously due to its tainted reputation of always being postponed. To note, SK elections were postponed 5 times from 2013 to 2015. The last SK election was held in 2010 and since 2013, the SK remained vacant. This discouraging turn of events, adding to the equally discouraging dirty Philippine politics are indeed factors as to why a section of the youth became indifferent with the SK.

How shall the vacant SK posts be filled after the SK elections?

These vacancies in SK, and the lacking provisions in RA 10742 posses a challenge on how we shall move forward. KPL-Cordillera, in accordance to the Local Government Code of 1991, calls of having special elections to rule over unfilled positions in the SK. We believe that option of having DILG or any other government office appoint the unfilled posts for the SK defeats the very core of democratic processes. More so, it will contradict to the spirit of the anti-political dynasty provision of RA 10742 that whats to veer away from any form of patronage politics. What shall be done is a massive information campaign and trainings in order to capacitate the youth and let them be encouraged to participate in the special elections.

Message of the KPL for the aspiring SK officials

Amidst the worsening condition of the Filipino people as we confront the fascist and anti-poor Duterte regime, we are once again challenged to strengthen our ranks and build wider solidarity with other democratic forces, the peasants, workers, among others, in resisting the tyrannical rule of the fascist dictator Duterte. As we continuously defend and advance our victories such as the free education, we are faced with anti-people policies such as the TRAIN, jeepney phaseout, contractualization and the spate of killings and human right violation that this administration perpetuates. Now, more than ever, the SK shall take a vital role in leading the youth in a path towards a genuine politics of change. A politics that advances the rights and true interest of the youth and the people and is fearless in combating anything or anyone that hamper those rights. The youth has already proven that despite vacant SK polls for the last 5 years, it cannot be stopped from organizing themselves and advancing the welfare of the youth in various platform. Let the SK be a venue for us, same as the seat of KPL in Congress, but always put in mind that the youth movement is far beyond that. # nordis.net

*Christian Dave Ruz is Regional Coordinator of Kabataan Partylist Cordillera

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