First, it cannot be gainsaid that the right of the people to choose their leaders should not be lightly brushed aside. The right of suffrage, after all, is the bedrock of democracy.
Second, elected Barangay officials are in a better position to rally their constituencies than appointed officials, since they were chosen by the community rather than imposed upon it. Cooperation would be the paradigm, rather than mere obedience to authority. With the cooperation of the community, many worthwhile programs can be put in place, and the role of the Barangay in dispute resolution would be greatly enhanced. One has only to look to those communities where Barangays have contributed to the general welfare to see the truth of this assertion.
While it must be admitted that some Barangays disappoint, decision making at this level ought not to be dictated upon by the lowest common denominator. Instead, strengthen those Barangays that do work and hold them out as exemplars; strengthen also the ability of other Barangays to emulate their more successful counterparts.
And third, it is unfair to condemn the Sangguniang Kabataan system without a more thorough study of how it has fared in the years since its inception. Anecdotal evidence is simply not enough to overturn the collective wisdom of the Congress that created the SK.
Nor is it fair to dismiss today’s youth as incapable of governance simply because of their age. Time and again, we see the nation’s youth at the forefront of movements for change. The youth know enough to see the ills of the system, and they are intelligent enough to have good ideas on how to combat those ills. We cannot deprive society of the wisdom of the youth simply because we have learned to rely on the wisdom of age. Both have their strengths – the youth bring fresh perspectives, while their elders have experience; and both have their weaknesses – the youth can be impulsive while their elders can be unbending; but on balance, youth and age complement each other. This was, I believe, one of the fundamental assumptions of the SK. It has not been proven wrong, and its promise is as compelling now as it was before.