October 29, 2007 · Posted in: 2007 Elections, Governance

Starting them young

SANGGUNIANG Kabataan (SK) council member Lira Sanchez (not her real name) remembers the first time she received her “SOP,” the so-called standard operating procedure, otherwise known as love gifts or kickbacks, from projects in their barangay in Metro Manila.

She was 16 years old then, and the sight of the P6,000-cash being handed to her made her hesitate. “Di po ba ito bawal (Isn’t this illegal)?” the girl asked. She was assured that it wasn’t, adding: “Kahit si Kap meron niyan (Even the barangay captain has his share).”

Sangguniang Kabataan elections [photo by Avie Olarte]The money was apparently a “reward” for the successful barangay-wide sportsfest. For each year that sportsfests are held in her barangay, over half of their P1.4 million SK budget is spent on uniforms, basketballs, rackets, medals, and trophies, among other things. And for each event, the cash gift is equally divided among the SK members, although she suspects the SK chair gets a lot more. After all, the SK chair’s mother is also a barangay official, as well as a contractor/supplier, who arranges all the purchases of the SK.

Sanchez says there are purchases that are overpriced — in order to accommodate the 30-percent kickback — like a mini-van purchased at P600,000 when the price should just be a little over P200,000, or the recently bought laptop and LCD projector that none of the SK members ever saw. The three computers acquired years ago are now also missing, along with mono-block chairs reportedly stacked in the SK chair’s house.

Like many of the youth running for an SK post in the just held barangay elections, Sanchez is aware that it is precisely this type of practice that has led many to believe that the SK has fallen into the grip of traditional politics, a breeding ground that reeks of corruption, patronage, and inefficiency.

Sanchez, now 21, in fact wants the SK abolished. “Kasi bata ka pa lang, nasisira na ang pananaw mo sa pulitika (You get disillusioned at a very young age).”

In the 2005 story, “So Young and So Trapo,” PCIJ reported that SK is failing miserably in its mandate. Created during the Marcos years and resurrected in 1992 with the Local Government Code, SK was meant to be a training ground for the next generation of leaders. But with the introduction of trapo ways, many now doubt if there should still be an SK.

No less than Aquilino Pimentel Jr. himself, author of the local government code, favors the abolition of the SK for “no longer serving its purpose as a training ground for youth leaders and a means of getting the youth involved in community development.” Worse, he said, SK leaders commit corrupt practices, “unable to resist the temptation to which they are exposed in handling public funds that are entrusted to them.”

In this year’s budget, over P2.9 billion went to SK funds, based on its 10-percent share from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of the barangays. With SOPs ranging from 10 to 30 percent, a total of P290 million to P870 million could have been lost to corruption. Added to the money pot of SK is its share from the taxes and collected fees in a barangay. In rich villages in Makati, SK funds could be as much as P10 million.

But for others, it is simply not a case of mismanaging funds. Some say it is the barangay officials themselves who introduce the youth to corrupt ways. In Sanchez’s barangay, for instance, the purchase of equipment go unchecked because the SK chair’s mother arranges all the procurement, along with identifying contractors to build the basketball courts. It is, in fact, from these projects that they get the largest rebates, Sanchez says, ranging from P8,000 to P12,000 for each court built.

Possible reforms

Corruption is just one of the many problems confronting the SK. It has likewise been criticized for engaging in activities — such as sportsfests, concerts, and beautification projects — that do not benefit the youth.

The National Youth Commission (NYC), in a recently published SK Reform Policy Paper, said the top three favorite projects of the SK are concerning sports, environment, and infrastructure. Projects are not planned and monitored; most also do not submit annual reports.

The SK, NYC added, is also not able to convene the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan or KK, otherwise known as the SK electorate. Under the law, the KK is supposed to meet with the council every three months to get an update on the projects of the SK and to air their concerns. Many of the youths interviewed for the PCIJ story in 2005 are in fact not even aware that there should be such a body.

As for the issue of funds, there are those that had suggested that SK should not be handling money at all. But for NYC, this should not be the case. In its newly drafted proposed SK Reform Bill, NYC said the SK must be granted fiscal autonomy, which, in principle, would allow the SK to have full access and control of their funds and be accountable for its allocation as well as for the types of projects it spends its funds on.

Sanchez also thinks that the barangay should not meddle with the SK affairs. In the council, not only does the mother of the SK chair control the project, she also drafts all the SK resolutions herself. “All we have to do is sign,” she laments.

Fifteen-year-old Ian Tajuna, the youngest SK chair candidate in Pasong Tamo, Quezon City, also believes that the SK could handle its own affairs. Tajuna, being a class leader and head of various organizations since grade school, is confident that he could lead the 1,600 youths in his barangay, along with the other 16- and 17-year-olds in his slate.

He also says that he will never become a trapolito (young traditional politician). “There is hope. I will be able to reform the SK. Ako ang magbabago,” he says almost too confidently. If he wins today, he’ll be a step closer to being a Quezon City councilor, a dream he hopes to realize one day.

Read the SK Reform Policy Paper and Reform Bill.

8 Responses to Starting them young



November 1st, 2007 at 3:01 am

“no longer serving its purpose as a training ground for youth leaders and a means of getting the youth involved in community development.”

training ground for future corrupt politicians. i agree, better abolish it. it doesn’t help the youth with all those temptations around.



November 2nd, 2007 at 7:10 pm

oh goody, young ones are started early to corrupt the country.. well this is all well and good since corruption is now legal. heck the crime of plunder, regarded as the grand daddy of corrupt acts, was virtually made to comtents of tissue paper…

let us express our joy, pinoys are now considered morons and corruption is legal..

wave your hands in the air, and wave like you just dont care



November 3rd, 2007 at 10:54 am

LOL, I like your humor goimon. That pretty much is all we can do, laugh at ourselves because the same old story of corruption and miseries are written and analyzed but nobody seems to care. The majority of Filipinos have become callous, apathetic and stupid over the years. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU:

“let us express our joy, pinoys are now considered morons and corruption is legal..”

corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption…

How come I never read about the ultimate, proper punishment for corruption/plunder to discipline the nation? It’s always he stole, she stole, this much, that much, that’s a lie, no it’s not, unity, reconciliation…LET’S TALK ABOUT REVIVING THE DEATH PENALTY.

(sigh) And we make a big deal when other countries malign us? Common sense folks. Through out my life, I have never heard of anybody bad-mouthing Singapore or Japan when the jokes are about schools, diplomas and intelligence…there must be a reason why Filipinos are stereotyped in a negative way…common sense folks, common sense.



November 3rd, 2007 at 4:48 pm

actually.. id rather be corrupt than a hypocrite… we have the sandiganbayan and the ombudsman… two of the most useless institutions ever created since they are only good in paper… in reality, they practically do nothing.. they have been there since before i was born but still we are getting more corrupt…

i say, lets legalize corruption… or better yet abolish the sandiganbayan and the ombudsman and use the budget for these institution for corruption purposes… we are corrupt this way but at least we cease to be hypocrites



November 7th, 2007 at 2:57 pm

The foolishness of our laws which allowed the youth to participate in the exercise of politics in their early age will not not bebefit the country and the youth itself because of our cultures and attitude toward politics. this will, however, only create a headache in the future problems and therefore, create a weak governance which is vulnerable to corruptions and dynasties and as far as i am is concerned was the biggest tragedy that the policy makers ever made.The SK elections, however, upon my observation, is not the solutions to produced a bright and good leaders in the future but only create a problems because of the thier exposed in the nature of politics today,. The best solution for these problems is the not to give them a power to handle a money but focus only to the organizations which are involved only to the improvement of their sorrundings such as environmental focus organization.


Bob Malit

November 18th, 2007 at 6:35 am

Unlike Senator Aquilino Pimentel, I think the SK is good for the youth.

THE PROBLEM is there is a “lack of implementing rules and regulations, plus performance standards to ensure proper implementation of SK programs.

Senator Pimentel is quick to condemn SK as failure in its present implementation. However, this problem could be easily solve if the SK Council get together, with the help of “disinterested people in the barangay” to create implementing rules and regulations, standards” themselve designed to remove all corrupt members and their relatives.

As evidenced in your report, the young people are ready and willing to take charge of the programs. In this sense they will gain very good training in good transparent governance.


Bruce in Iloilo

December 5th, 2007 at 2:41 pm

The SK should be abolished because its existence makes no sense. If 16 year olds are mature enough to elect governmental leaders and to spend our tax money, then they are mature enough to vote in regular elections. If they are not mature enough, then they should not vote in any elections, period.

Marcos started the SK system so that he could identify future members of his politically repressive system. It was started to serve his needs, and it continues because it serves the needs of those currently in power. It was not started because there was a cry from the country. It was not started because a need was democratically identified and democratically addressed. It was started by those in power to serve their needs. For further proves, ask What other country has such a system? Certainly not the US or any other established democracy. If there is such a need, why haven’t they adopted it.

Bottom-line: either 16 year olds are mature enough to vote or they are not. There is no middle way. SK is a half answer and a half-a**ed solution to an non-existent problem. It should be abolished and the EVAT cut with the money saved.



January 12th, 2008 at 2:59 pm


On January 11, 2008, Hon.Vice Mayor Licerio “Cerry” Antiporda of Buguey, Cagayan charged 2 cases at the Ombudsman against Mr Victor Santos, a DILG officer in the said municipality . This is the alleged MOCKERY SK FEDERATION elections held. In the complaint, the following were mentioned:

1.Not all SK Chairmen attended the said seminar, nor it was stated in the memorandum letter that an election is one of the agenda.

2.The SB Secretary and Comelec officer were not invited to attend when in fact, they are members of the Board of Election Supervisors (BES)thus, Mr Santos supervised the said elections by himself;

3.The said elections were held in another town in an earlier date than the specified schedule;

4.In the oath of office of the SK President-elect (a niece of the Incumbent Mayor), she was inducted by the Regional DILG Director of Region II.

5.The 20 SK Chairmen who participated in that election will also be investigated.

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