On a now deleted Facebook Post by the official page of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of Barangay Tetuan, Zamboanga City showcasing their milestone for a project of a newly purchased brand new Mitsubishi Strada and blessing ceremony of the "patrol car to combat the challenges on anti-illegal drugs" in their respective locality on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
“Our goal as the representative of the Youth is to ensure that no Youth will never engage on drug related activities. This is our COMMITMENT in assuring the youth of quality projects that is inclusive and ompetitive,” the post says.
Netizens were quick to criticized the initiative of the SK officials as according to most, the project is counter effective and lacks further consideration if the purchase and use of the car is really conducive in delivering educational discussions to prevent drug abuse among the youth in their barangay, as mentioned on the post as for the purpose of the said project.
Moreover, the project is deemed questionable. Does a brand new car really solve the issue of illegal drugs?
We have to remember that there are other proven effective ways that were based on rigorous research and tested to prevent illicit drug use such as strengthening Intensive Educational Campaigns (IECs), School-based Education, Sports & Recreation, and Sustainable Livelihood Programs to revert the attention of the young population in an area.
Intensive Educational Campaigns (IECs) and School-based Education approaches could be a great avenue to address the issue as it can impart new knowledge to the young individuals who are confused about "trying things" and can serve as a foundation to recognize the possible effects of illegal drugs. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2002) said that “The school can influence skills, knowledge, values, and attitudes that may, in turn, influence drug use.”
Many young people have a strong love for sport and using this has a positive effects in many different
ways including drug abuse prevention. Sports and Recreation diverts people's attention from illicit use of drugs. “Sports can be used to interest and empower young people in becoming involved in improving community conditions,” according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC). A study conducted by UNDOC revealed that people living below the poverty line are more likely to engage in illegal drug abuse. This is also the reason why people are deprived to access education and left alone with no chance to attain help from an impaired government. These are the same people who have their family suffering from economic stress which negatively affects their parenting ability, which can result in youths abandoning their homes and ending up living in the streets most-likely to be influenced with drug-use by their peers.
In an article published in the International Journal of Drug Policy states that “the concept of social exclusion prioritizes the need for policies and practice that seek to change structural inequalities rather than individual behavior. At the broadest level, this means addressing key social problems (such as poverty, unemployment, restricted opportunities for training and education) that frequently underpin and exacerbate problem drug use, homelessness, and ill-health.” Thus, investing to a sustainable livelihood programs for the youth at the barangay level not just alleviate them from the poverty line but can shift their focus on more important things that gives them the opportunity to thrive as individuals.
Circling back to the brand new vehicle of the SK officials that has recently been purchased, raised a question if the project is in line with the Comprehensive Barangay Youth Development Plan
(CBYDP) which is a three-year rolling plan formulated by the Sangguniang Kabataan in consultation and with the concurrence of the Katipunan ng Kabataan. The CBYDP is the basis of the approved Annual Barangay Youth Investment Program (ABYIP) where the Annual Budget or Supplemental Budget is anchored with the ABYIP.
According to SK of Barangay Tetuan in a statement obtained by The Negros Times, a supplemental budget was used to procure the said vehicle. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act No. 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 Section 20, Paragraph 3 (c) states that programs, projects, and activities shall give priority to: “equitable access to quality education, environment protection, climate change adoption, disaster risk reduction, and resiliency, youth employment and livelihood, health, including health services and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, anti-drug abuse, gender sensitivity, sports development, and capability building which emphasizes leadership training.” The Municipal Council or Sangguniang Panlungsod reviews the proposed budget and critically checks its consistency with the existing laws.
We have to take note that the budget of Sangguniang Kabataan is very minimal where only ten percent (10%) of the general fund is set aside for the SK Barangay. Now, this begs the question: given a very limited budget, is it worth buying a vehicle to combat drug abuse while other pressing issues like education, environment, unemployment sectors remain not fully addressed or completely untouched and disregarded?
One of the SK Officials of Barangay Tetuan also made a Facebook Post (shared by the Page, also now deleted), claiming that the purpose of the brand new vehicle is to “ronda” (or patrol) in the area, in which did not settle very well with the people leaving with more questions, "Isn't that the job of the Police?" "What about the members of the barangay peacekeeping action team or the Barangay Tanod?"
Questions in which unless given proper attention and transparency will remain the number one issue the Philippines is facing when it comes to 'power in politics' and our 'broken system'.
The new Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 challenges our young elected officials to utilize SK, as a training ground for good governance free from self-interest and corruption.
There are many youth-led non-govermental organizations that runs independently and do not have a budget, or was only allotted with a very minimal budget who started their adocacies from scratch but was still able to produce quality programs, activities, and projects that are both beneficial and practical for the sole benefit of the youth. Sanguniang Kabataan should empower these organizations instead
of making a whole new plan that are either trashy or plainly foolish and a waste of government funds.
Nonetheless, anything that involves a government budget indeed requires a thorough analysis with the consultation of different branches and offices involved. There are so many other ways, and rather more important issues that can be solved and addressed without the need of insignificant spending on new "solutions" like a "brand new car". Perhaps, who knows, it will be worth it.