‘Reform SK, fight political dynasties at same time’
MANILA, Philippines—An administration senator believes the effort to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) could be an opportunity to finally put the antipolitical dynasty law into action.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III on Tuesday proposed including a provision defining the term “political dynasty” in a Senate bill to reform the SK.
Once lawmakers agree on what a political dynasty is, Guingona said, Congress could proceed to craft an antidynasty bill.
While the Constitution bans political dynasties, there is no enabling law that lays down its definition, scope and controls.
Commissioner Lucenito Tagle had said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) planned to ask Congress to abolish the SK as it had morphed into a “breeding ground for political dynasties” and a training center for corruption.
The SK is a barangay (village)-attached youth legislative body that initiates policies and projects for the youth in the community and enacts ordinances in their interest.
“While it is common knowledge that many SK (units) are manipulated by the parents and older politicians, we should put in safety provisions to solve this problem rather than consider complete abolition as a solution,” said Sen. JV Ejercito of the opposition.
Ejercito said he would file an SK Empowerment Act that would address “imperfections and flaws” in the current council setup.
Ejercito’s proposal would keep the entry age at 15 but raise the age limit to 25 from the current 17, in the hope the older youth would be able to better stand up to their elders and resist temptation.
For Guingona, once the SK reform bill is discussed on the session floor, the Senate could set a legal definition of a political dynasty along with the degrees of relationship allowed.
This way, the bill would bar the election of SK officers closely related to barangay and other local officials and propagate a dynasty.
“This is an issue whose time has come. I have been encountering this since I was a congressman, so it’s about time we finally decided on the issue of political dynasties,” said Guingona in a news conference.
Some three decades after its transformation from the martial law regime’s Kabataang Barangay, the SK has deteriorated into a politicized and graft-ridden council under the supervision of adult local government officials.