The plan to postpone the SK elections

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

My memory of my youth is replete with happy political involvement. It was in my elementary years when the resume of then candidate for senator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos overwhelmed me such that I internalized every bit of his written bio-data, from topping the 1939 bar exams to his exploits in the Second World War although his war medals were, years later, exposed to be fakery. During the entire period, I asked my parents to help me get his election materials so that I could distribute them in my birthplace in Candijay, Bohol.

When number 1 bar examination placers Jovito R. Salonga and Jose W. Diokno ran for senator, I was in high school, in Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte, my late father's hometown. Salonga led the Liberal Party bets while Diokno was a candidate of the Nacionalista Party. They came to Burgos weeks apart. Political parties did not mean much to me and so it was difficult for the town mayor, who was my grandmother's brother, to understand why I volunteered to speak on the campaign podium for both Salonga and Diokno when they did not share a common platform.

Years later, while I was still in my teens, there were an Ernesto Maceda and a Benigno S. Aquino Jr. who captured my fancy. They were stalwarts of the opposing Nacionalista and Liberal Parties. I did not mind going to various parts of Cebu, places that I never visited before, just to promote their candidacies. No party loyalty prevailed upon me to do what I did. It was almost plain hero-worshipping.

In 1969, I was still not an elector. But, that did not stop me from contributing my youthful energy to campaign for an Atty. Eduardo R. Gullas, the president of the school where I was enrolled, against two popular congressmen Antonio Cuenco and Ernesto Bascon. My assignment covered three precincts in Tabunok, Talisay town and if my memory serves me right, the margin, 16, posted by my candidate over his opponents, in my assigned precincts, proved to be his eventual margin of victory. By the way, it was in that 1969 election that I still volunteered to work for the re-election of a Pres. Marcos.

I recall all of these active electoral participations that I did while young in connection with the Sangguniang Kabataan elections. To me the SK, as it was later organized, became the formalization of my otherwise personal involvement in election process.

While it lasted, the SK gave an avenue for the youth to channel their energies and vision for their country. Rather than being involved in youthful frenzies, the young blood occupying seats in various sanggunians had the correct venue and available resources to pursue whatever they thought was good for their peers. They were not just outsiders looking inside the halls of power, they became wielders of authority themselves. Such was the scheme why the SK was organized until the young visionaries got influenced by undesirable practices.

Take this example. One dawn, I received a persistent phone call. It came from a girl. The teenager said she had to call me at that unholy hour to pray for my help because she was a candidate for an SK position. To flatter me, perhaps, she said that my lady and I were her idols. In our political endeavors, she, rather, her family always backed us up.

What kind of a help could I give when few hours after our talk would have been already election day, was my question. Her retort was brief. She wanted me to help her with some funds so she could "buy votes." The price tag was P100 per voter! Because I almost fell from the bed, our conversation abruptly ended.

Something terribly wrong happened to the SK program. Ideals got replaced by crooked motivations. In fact, SK elections became the proxy battle ground of warring political clans consumed with power. Yes, old politicians warped the minds of their wards with such less nationalistic directions as doing everything to remain in power.

That members of our legislature think of putting SK elections on hold in order to have time to review it is indicative of how wrong has the SK program become. How sad.


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