Imee Marcos urges “peer-to-peer” strategies for SK to address jobs mismatch, teenage pregnancy, mental health issues

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At the Davao City Oath-taking Ceremony of Newly-Elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Officials last June 25, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos emphasized the need to solve the most pressing socio-economic issues among Filipino youth.

“It is the youth for the youth,” she reminded the SK. “No one else will solve our problems but our very own young people doing peer-to-peer counseling and helping each other.”

She pointed out the mismatch between increasing investments in construction and manufacturing and the surplus of graduates in healthcare and teaching, as well as the longtime problem of out-of-school youth (OSY).

On teenage pregnancy, “Hindi naman makikinig ang ating mga kapwa kabataan sa mga titser, sa mga nanay, at lalo na sa mga BHW [barangay health worker]. Kailangan kayo na rin ang mag-counsel.

Nakakasira siya [teenage pregnancy] ng buhay, ng kalusugan, at lipunan,” she added, considering the social stigma and economic difficulty that come along with such situations.

Governor Marcos further discussed the negative effects of technology, Internet, and social media, particularly cyber bulling and its connection to cases of suicide and other mental health problems.

Ito ang pinakamalungkot na nangyayari na kung minsan, hindi natin maintindihan,” she lamented. Still, she expressed her confidence in youth leadership, lauding the SK as the “makabagong KB [Kabataang Barangay].”

The KB is considered the predecessor of the SK, established during the administration of Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The governor had chaired the organization for 11 years, from 1975 to 1986.

Even as governor of Ilocos Norte (2010 to present), Marcos has harnessed the youth sector in order to boost employment, student productivity and skills development, tourism, cultural development, and volunteerism.

Her flagship program for the youth, “Sirib Express,” led to the formation of non-government organization Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (SIKA) as well as the establishment of the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO).

The SIKA initially served as a platform for youth leaders in the province, somewhat replacing the SK when it was suspended from 2013 to 2017. Meanwhile, the INYDO serves as the official Capitol department catering to youth concerns, from scholarship programs to career counseling and talent incentives.

She told the Davaoeño youth, “I’m certain that this generation of SK, sa ilalim ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte, at sa ilalim ni Mayora Inday Sara Duterte, ay magiging matagumpay, makabuluhan, at magagaling.”