Competent National and Community-level Leadership for the Youth's Development

Apathy and non-participation have generally characterized the youth’s attitude towards nation-building.

The youth sector has often been neglected in the governance agenda of past administrations. Given the lack of concrete vision and intervening programs attuned to the development of the youth, it is unfortunate that some have been led to commit use illegal drugs and commit criminal acts. While there are government agencies and local government bodies mandated to promote youth development, election and/or appointment to posts in these institutions have been hounded by nepotism and patronage.

The impact of the National Youth Commission's (NYC) work over the past few years has been minimal, at best, in as far as the advancement of the youth agenda is concerned. In the absence of genuine consultation and dialogue, the programs, policies, and activities being implemented by the NYC have been non-responsive to the true plight of the youth sector. Furthermore, the appointment of its previous Commissioners has been largely influenced by the ‘padrino’ system rather than an individual’s sectoral experience and competence.

It is also said that the Sangguniang Kabataan has become a breeding ground for corruption. While the SK Reform Law seeks to remedy some of the previous pitfalls of youth governance at the community level, the impact of these reforms will only be felt once the new set of SK officials are elected by 14 May 2018. Nevertheless, in the absence of a credible qualification system for candidates at the SK level, the SK system is bound to be a failure if the wrong people are once again elected into office.

The recent decision of the NYC to sever ties with the TAYO Awards after 15 years of partnership is a clear change in programmatic direction. However, the NYC misses the chance to rehabilitate its image by its pandering to the powers-that-be through the proposal to have the Rodrigo Duterte Youth Leadership Awards replace the TAYO Awards, which I consider futile and unnecessary.

Apathy and non-participation have generally characterized the youth’s attitude towards nation-building. While episodes of responsible citizenship have been exercised by some members and loosely organized groups within the youth sector in critical socio-political events, the failure of youth governance bodies to generate continuing interest in responsible citizenship activities can be attributed to poor management and lack of direction.

To encourage sustained youth involvement and participation in social and political affairs, there is a need for competent leadership at the helm of mandated agencies and bodies for youth development.

The youth comprises a significant segment in our society. Young people in the age bracket of 15-24 make up about 20% of the entire country's population. Young people aged 18-35 constitutes about 40% of the country's voting population. Given the right policy environment and leadership direction at the national and community levels, the youth of today can make a lasting difference in as far as national development is concerned.

Thus, I make this appeal to the President to appoint experienced and competent leaders at the NYC! At the same time, I also appeal to our youth to elect worthy candidates to various Sangguniang Kabataan positions!

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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