DILG: 39 barangays have no or incomplete SK officials

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) Thirty-nine barangays nationwide lack Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials, Interior Department Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said Tuesday a day after the barangay and SK elections.

"Based on the final tally that I got from the (Commission on Elections) yesterday, only 39 barangays in the country have no candidates or incomplete candidates," Malaya told CNN Philippines' The Source.

He said the number is an "insignificant statistic" out of over 42,000 barangays nationwide.

Officials said the polls were "generally peaceful," with no failure of elections and a lower number of verified election-related deaths.

However, there were reports of vote-buying and intimidation. The Interior Department also announced it would have the proclamation of about 1,000 barangay officials suspended after they were found non-compliant with candidacy requirements.

The SK is the youth council of the barangay, composed of one chairman and seven kagawad. The institution also is the subject of much controversy, as a 2007 UNICEF study noted its "weak" performance.

READ: SK elections: 'Bata pa po kami. Ano ba ang alam namin sa pulitika?'

Malaya said a number of factors affected the SK candidacy turnout, including lack of understanding about the anti-dynasty rule, doubts that elections would proceed, remoteness of the concerned barangays, and budget lack for the SK and its officials.

He said SK officials have no honorarium, even as the SK by law should get 10 percent of the barangay fund. This means large barangays in urban areas have a higher budget compared with those in remote areas, said Malaya.

The government is considering three options for unfilled SK council posts.

The Interior Department or the National Youth Commission, headed by Officer-in-Charge and previous Duterte Youth President Ronald Cardema, may appoint SK officials.

It is also looking into a special election to be held in the 39 barangays, which Malaya says is the most preferred option.

"I was telling them maybe that's the easier path to take. Because if we go through the appointment process, people are gonna say... it could be politicized," said Malaya.

Another option is to have the local government's youth development officer take charge of activities in barangays with no or incomplete SK officials.

Barangay and SK officials elected this year will begin serving at noon of June 30 and will hold office for two years. Under Republic Act 10952 which set the elections in May 2018, the next barangay and SK elections will be held on the second Monday of May 2020. After that, elections will be held every three years.