Polls fail to fill East Visayas youth council seats

By Joey A. Gabieta
Last updated 05:26am (Mla time) 11/17/2007

TACLOBAN CITY—A Sangguniang Kabataan chair without council members or an SK council without a chair.

These were the cases noted by the Commission on Elections in different parts of Eastern Visayas as it started to collate the region-wide results of the recently concluded barangay and SK elections.

The situation might justify the call for the abolition of the SK in the country, said lawyer Adolfo Ibañez, regional director of Comelec.

Ibañez said there were a number of villages in the region where only the position for the SK chair was filled up or only the posts for council were filled up. In some cases, the seven-member SK councils were only half filled.

Ibañez cited the case of Barangay Danao in Maripipi town of Biliran where the lone candidate for SK chair, Arnel Rosario, won with six votes but has no councilors to help transact SK affairs in his barangay.

In Biliran’s provincial capital of Naval, six ran and won for council seats but they have no SK chair. The SK chair is supposed to sit in the barangay council as an ex-officio member, representing the youth.

The island-province of Biliran, composed of eight municipalities, has 7,387 registered SK voters.

Ibañez said based on information he received from election officers in the region, “this situation is also (reflective) in other towns in Samar.”

The region has more than 200,000 registered SK voters.

In Tacloban City, a similar situation was true in Barangay 97 where only four ran and won for SK council seats with no one filing a certificate of candidacy for SK chairmanship.

All 63 registered voters of the village cast their votes.

Joseph Myles Colasito, regional information officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government, said he could not comment as the DILG has yet to come up with guidelines on how to deal with the absence of an SK chair or SK council members in a barangay.

“But one thing sure is, the barangay chair cannot appoint anybody to fill up the vacant positions,” Colasito said.

Ma. Corazon Montallana, city elections officer, said that an elected SK chair without any councilors can still discharge his duties.

“He still represents the SK in the village,” she said.

Ibañez said that lack of interest among the youth to participate was cited as the main reason only few ran in the Oct. 29 SK elections.

An SK chair enjoys, among other benefits, an honorarium and civil service eligibility, Ibañez said.