By Ellson Quismorio
Kabataan Party-List is wary about where the budget intended for the 2020 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections would go in case Congress decides to follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to postpone it.
“In case that the SK elections are postponed, we should give focus on protecting its integrity and autonomy, making sure that its budget goes to its intended purpose,” the militant party-list said in a statement Tuesday.
Sarah Elago represents the group in the current 18th Congress. She was also the group’s lone nominee during the previous 17th Congress.
The SK or Youth Council polls are traditionally held together with the Barangay or village elections, which Duterte also wants postponed.
During his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, the Chief Executive called on both the House of Representatives and the Senate to defer the 2020 Barangay and SK polls to 2022 via legislation.
“We remain steadfast in our call for genuine youth representation and youth services,” Kabataan said.
According to the group, the youth sector was among those hurt by Congress’s delayed passage of the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.
“The much-delayed and controversial 2019 budget has had far-reaching consequences for the Filipino people. Among its casualties is the operations of the Sangguniang Kabataan, gravely affecting the institution’s capacity to effectively perform its mandate.”
Meanwhile, Kabataan also expressed worries that the motivations behind the proposed postponement of the synchronized polls were political in nature.
“The call to postpone the SK elections should not serve to further the administration’s political interests, particularly Cha-Cha (Charter Change) and term extension,” it said.
It’s not new for President Duterte to seek the deferment of the village and youth polls. Since he assumed the Palace seat in June 2016, the synchronized polls have been conducted only once, in May 2018.
Those polls were originally scheduled on October 2016, or just a few months after the national elections.
But Duterte asked Congress to postpone it a total of three times, with lawmakers delivering on his request the first two occasions.
Duterte–known for his hard-line stance against criminality–had alleged that up to 40 percent of village officials in the country were involved with the illegal drugs trade.
There are over 42,000 Barangays in the Philippines.