CITY Hall will distribute this week P1 million each to the Sangguniang Kabataan of all the 80 barangays in the city. Since the financial assistance is already allocated in the current budget, it will not be taken from the emergency funds that the city council released to the mayor to address the problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the second round of financial assistance that the barangays will receive from the city government within two weeks. Only last week, City Hall started releasing cash aid ranging from P1 million to P3 million, depending on the village’s population, to the barangay captains.
The money is tied to the campaign against the coronavirus. Mayor Edgar Labella, through his spokesperson, made it clear that the financial assistance can be used only for the purchase of food, medicines, personal protective equipment, masks or anything connected, no matter how remotely, to the fight against Covid-19.
There is no such restriction in the use of the SK’s allocation, it seems. In the words of a city official, its purpose is to help realize the youth association’s projects in their barangays. So any purpose will do, the only exception being pocketing the money themselves. We only have to trust in the youth leaders’ sense of responsibility.
Our experience with past SKs has been anything but remarkable. Most of their projects were frivolous: team building exercises that were nothing more than picnics, study tours that were actually junkets, beauty pageants, discos and purchase of athletic uniforms, among many others.
I hope that all these are things of the past, that today’s SK has grown not only older with the expansion of their membership but also wiser and more conscious of their responsibilities as community leaders. I also pray that they will not turn a blind eye to the sufferings of their neighbors because of the pandemic and instead see how P1 million can go a long way in easing these sufferings.
Indeed, this is the chance of the SK to shine, to show that they are not an unnecessary appendage but a useful and integral part in the scheme of local governance and community building. I look forward to them stepping up to the plate in this time of great need, disregarding any notion that they are a parish within a parish and serving the community’s needs, not just their own, with their money.
How many sacks of rice can P1 million buy? How many cans of sardines and cartons of noodles? Or bars of soap and packs of other toiletries?
The SK was conceived to train the youth in the art of governance. The experiment has not been a smashing success, and that is being generous, as youth leaders were instead coopted by their elders into the world of vote-buying and corruption. The situation became so bad that at one point, people clamored for the SK’s abolition.
Today, the organization has a chance to justify its reason for being. Governance is all about public service. And for the Cebu City SK, public service is better achieved during this time of crisis by choosing to spend their P1 million on addressing the needs of a struggling community instead of their own.