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What programs should BSKE candidates prioritize?

by Joanna Deala

OCTOBER 30 is fast approaching, so it’s nearly time for Filipinos to choose their next barangay and youth leaders.

The date was declared a non-working holiday to allow eligible Filipino voters to participate in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

On election day, the public will vote for their new barangay chairman, SK chairperson, and their council members. 

According to Book III of the Local Government Code, the barangay chairman is mandated “to enforce laws and ordinances, maintain public order in their barangay, and enter into contracts for and on behalf of the barangay upon the approval of the Sangguniang Barangay.”

Meanwhile, the Local Government Code of 1991 stated that among the responsibilities of the SK chairperson is “to call and preside over all meetings of the youth council, take the lead in the formulation of the Comprehensive Barangay Youth Development Plan and in the preparation and implementation of the Annual Barangay Youth Investment Program, and ensure the implementation of policies, programs and projects based on the Annual Barangay Youth Investment Programs, in coordination with the Sangguniang Barangay and the Youth Development Council of the city or municipality.”

The campaign period for the upcoming BSKE kicked off on October 19, with candidates laying out their promises to improve their villages.

But if voters were given an opportunity to suggest programs which they think would really help people in their jurisdictions, what would it be?

Mental health

Nicole Santiago, 23, told republicasia that the programs of candidates should not only focus on the physical health of the youth but also on their mental health.

The senior mass communication student said that there are young individuals who have been dealing with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

“Me, personally, I would say that not being able to [say] what I feel is like hell,” Santiago shared.

In a March 2023 study conducted by insurance provider AXA Philippines, Filipino Gen Z respondents (aged 18 to 24 years old) admitted that they were dealing with depression and anxiety. 

Those who were experiencing depression reached 35 percent, while those who were experiencing anxiety were at 16 percent. These numbers were higher than global numbers, which were at 27 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Santiago said that it was important to have clinics that would provide mental health support in every town.

“They should have a clinic that has a psychiatrist or any person we can talk to in times of need without any judgment from anyone,” she stressed.

Boost assistance, combat misinformation

For 22-year-old student Joshua Gerona, strengthening the educational and economic assistance in each town is a must as the country faces economic challenges such as inflation.

“[I]-prioritize ‘yung pagpapaigting ng mga educational and economic assistance at the barangay level since almost everyone, especially the youth, ay directly affected ng recent pandemic and severe inflation sa bansa,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) earlier reported that the country’s inflation accelerated to 6.1 percent in September 2023, faster than the 5.3 percent in August. The increase was attributed to higher food inflation, which rose to 10 percent from the 8.2 percent recorded in August mainly because of rice.

The government, on the other hand, assured the public that it is “committed to providing targeted assistance to affected vulnerable segments of the population” amid the rising prices of goods and services.

Gerona also suggested that there should be a fora about responsible use of social media, as many young individuals rely on the Internet for information.

“Need ding maglatag ng mga campaign against misinformation and educational discussions on responsible use of social media since halos lahat ng mga kabataan ngayon eh online na ang mode ng pag-access sa information,” he said.

Gerona added that candidates should also ensure safe spaces, those free from discrimination and violence in their towns.

Free tutoring

Meanwhile, communication student Jusefher Ignacio, 21, wants barangay and SK candidates to prioritize educational programs, especially for children who don’t have access to quality education.

He suggests a platform that will provide free lectures to those who want to learn more.

“I will suggest ‘free tutoring’ for kids who cannot enter school because of financial difficulties. Not only for kids but for people who want to learn a lot,” said Ignacio.

“I want to raise this concern to those people who [are running in the upcoming], BSKE,” he said.

Promote sports, feed the hungry

26-year-old student Marise Marquez believes that there should be programs which are focused on promoting sports like basketball and volleyball.

Many youth councils are already implementing recreational activities in their villages that they think would improve the youth’s well-being.

Sa pamamagitan ng sports ay makakatulong ito sa kanilang kalusugan at ‘di mahihikayat ng bisyo dahil yung time [nila] is nailalaan nila sa paglalaro, at the same time, nalilibang sila,” she stressed.

Marquez also suggested a feeding program for the children.

Marami pa rin kasing mga bata na nagugutom at hindi makakain ng maayos dahil sa kakulangan ng pera o pangkain,” she added.



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