By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A youth group has underscored the need to “overhaul the entire electoral and political systems” in the country so that those who will hold government positions will become “true champions” of peoples’ interests.
The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), which identifies itself as a youth organization aiming to “educate and mobilize the youth in widening its democratic rights and empower them to counter all forms of oppression and capitalist exploitation,” reminded the public – as well as those who are aiming for government posts in the 2019 midterm polls in May – to rethink the meaning of “public service.”
In one of the televised debates among senatorial bets, the issue that candidates should have finished tertiary education before being allowed to run for a public office was brought up. Many candidates agreed that a college degree should become a requirement in running for higher government posts.
For the youth group, citing “college education” as a requirement for elective posts is “elitist” and promotes a “wrong narrative.”
“Public service would really need a more systematic way of thinking- something college graduates would have practiced for years — if not mastered,” SPARK said “Looking at the context of the Philippine society, tertiary education has always been a privilege, more than a universal right,” it added.
For SPARK, finishing tertiary education has become a “social measurement of how much your family can take financially, as it would take another four years of expenses before you can actually find a ‘decent’ job, or if you can even find one at a short span of time – more expenses if you’re going to take a lot longer finding jobs than others.”
SPARK lamented that “as long as our educational system is far from perfect and partial to those with money to invest in education, and for as long as the government heavily relies on the private sector to educate its people and our national spending on research and development is last in government’s priorities, requiring public officials to be a college graduate is an elitist and privileged view.”
For the group, requiring political hopefuls to complete a college degree “promotes a narrative that only college graduates are deserving of holding office” when in fact, “everyone has the right to elect and be elected by the populace [and] what is important is that those elected truly represents the poor majority and uncompromisingly advances their interests.”
SPARK noted that the national elections are “very similar” to student council elections – it “remains to be a popularity” contest. “All candidates should have national prestige, unlimited funds, backed by top-notch marketing schemes and must have garnered enough media mileage for the people to recognize and recall on election day,” the group said. “But this does not mean that we allow the ‘artistahin’, the mestizos and mestizas to monopolize public office,” the group added.
To address this concern, SPARK believes that there is a need to educate the voters further. For the group, reforming the educational system is needed to “fully develop the peoples’ keen political sense and tools for critical thinking.” There is also a need to “overhaul the entire electoral and political system in order for true representatives and champions of peoples interests trounce the traditional politicians or “trapos” and political dynasties.”