By Chito Chavez
With corruption concerns surrounding the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte will lead a seminar for youths aspiring to run in the May National Youth legislature elections.
She said the government needs to exert valuable time to cleanse the ranks of the SK officials in inculcating in them the value of good governance.
Belmonte also noted that the seminar will also insulate them from the culture of corruption which has become prevalent in local governance.
“I think this preelection seminar is important so that the young people running for SK posts understand what the value of their work is all about,” the vice mayor said in an interview. “I believe that this early we should keep them away from the path of dirty politics.”
The Office of the Vice Mayor has partnered with the San Sebastian College in the orientation seminar for aspiring SK candidates, details of which are still being finalized as of this moment.
Belmonte said its principal purpose is to educate SK bets about platform building, good governance, and leadership.
“Because the perception of running for elective posts, which we’re trying to change with our advocacy for good governance, is that it has something to do with power and wealth generation. I think we have to change that mindset,” she said.
“Ang gusto natin matuto sila kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng tunay na public service (We want them to learn what real public service means),” Belmonte stressed.
Government service, Belmonte said, is “all about servant leadership rather than power and wealth generation.”
Since its creation in 1991 by the Local Government Code, SK has been met with criticisms questioning its wisdom and practicability.
Under the SK system, each barangay must have its own youth council composed of 15- to 18-year-old elected representatives tasked to deliver youth-focused services in the barangay.
There have been numerous calls in Congress to abolish the youth council, one of which is House Bill 1122 filed by Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice who claimed youth council gives barangay leaders a chance to corrupt the youth instead of training them to be good leaders.
In 2010, Jane Cajes, former SK National Federation (SKNF) president, faced corruption charges filed by two youth groups that complained of lack of transparency in SK finances.
Among other allegations, Cajes was accused of failing to liquidate over P93 million in SKNF funds, and “lavish display of wealth” that allegedly included expenses for branded clothes and cosmetic surgery.