History and controversy of ‘Kabataang Barangay’ goes back to Martial Law era

August 31, 2018 - 5:55 PM
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Imee Marcos_Philstar.com_Interaksyon
In this photo: Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos was the guest of honor during the anniversary of the now-defunct Kabataang Barangay. (Philstar.com/Edd Gumaban)

The Kabataang Barangay’s anniversary on August 25, 2018 was a gathering of supporters of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos with his daughter Ilocos Norte Governor Imelda “Imee” Marcos as the guest of honor.

It was held at the Bahay ng Alumni in the University of the Philippines-Diliman, a place where activists and opposition figures of the strongman convened which consequently put some of the academe’s officials in hot water.

The now-defunct political body is considered as the predecessor of the Sanggunian Kabataan today, which similarly encourages the youth to engage in politics, until it was abolished in 1986.

Kabataang Barangay during Martial Law

The KB was created on April 15, 1975, shortly after Marcos declared Martial Law, by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 684, which states: “There shall be in every barangay throughout the land a barangay youth organization to be known as “Kabataang Barangay” composed of all residents therein who are less than eighteen years of age.”

This provided an opportunity for the youth to have “a definite role” and an opportunity to help in “providing a more democratic and popular basis for legislation and/or other governmental operations” in the future.”

The first national KB elections were held on May 1, 1975, and two years later, it had its own constitutional convention framed in Laguna.

Each KB council comprises one chairperson and six members.

When Marcos was ousted and the rest of his family exiled, the KB became non-operational as well.

Imee and Concepcion

Two former KB officials still play a big part in the political arena today—Imee and UP President Danilo Concepcion.

Despite the mandated barangay elections, Marcos, appointed Imee as the first KB national chairperson.

There was a student activist named Archimedes Trajano who reportedly questioned her being appointed in an open rally during her term in 1977.

Previous reports tell that Trajano, a 21-year-old college student from Mapua Institute of Technology, was dragged out of the event by Imee’s guards. Hours later, his lifeless body suddenly turned up bearing severe torture marks.

Trajano’s mother had to wait until Martial Law was over before she was able to file charges of “false imprisonment, kidnapping, wrongful death, and a deprivation of rights” in a Hawaii court. She later won the damage suit.

Concepcion, meanwhile, was the KB president in Metro Manila from 1976 to 1978.

His attendance to the reunion was confirmed when photos of him surfaced online sporting the Marcos “V” gesture.

Marcos event in anti-Marcos town

This is not the first time former KB members held a get-together. Their events are announced in the KB official Facebook account and shared on the official website.

Posted by Kabataang Barangay on Monday, July 2, 2018

The UP Student Council of Diliman described the affair as “a gross disrespect not only by the Marcoses but also by the University to the long list of martyrs during the martial rule.”

The 45th anniversary of the Kabataang Barangay held in the UP Bahay ng Alumni is a gross disrespect not only by the…

Posted by UP Diliman University Student Council on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

“The presence of the Marcos cronies’ youth arm inside the University discredits the sacrifice of those who earnestly fought and offered their lives to the country during martial law,” the group shared on Facebook.

Several UP alumni and faculty members also aired their concerns that allowing the KB reunion to take place in the university premises may be a form of “rehabilitation” of the Marcoses.

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Posted by No Erasures, No Revisions on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

“Any distortion of the discourses of academic freedom, pluralism, and the use of public space to deodorize the stinking record of the Marcoses for their political revival is unacceptable and lamentable,” Facebook page No Erasures, No Revisions posted.