Antidynasty clause in SK reforms pushed
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Filipino youth groups are mounting a national lobby to push Congress to pass measures that would reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) before the next youth council election.
The government postponed the SK election, which was supposed to have been synchronized with last year’s barangay (village) election, “but it has not abolished SK,” said Jason Balag-ey, a Baguio youth leader who is leading the Baguio leg of the lobby.
“We cannot allow the SK election to resume without reforming the SK itself, or else we may as well push for its abolition,” he said on Monday.
Allowing a tainted SK system to continue “would be a disservice to the youth,” Balag-ey added.
Republic Act No. 10632 postponed the Oct. 28, 2013, SK election to a date to be determined by the Commission on Elections between Oct. 28 this year and Feb. 23, 2015.
Balag-ey said the most important provision in the bills filed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon was an antidynasty clause that would remove the SK stigma that the youth movement “has become a laboratory for traditional politicians.”
The National Youth Commission (NYC) has pushed for a provision banning youth candidates from seeking SK office when his or her parents or close relatives also hold an elective government position in a village, a city or a province, Balag-ey said.
“[The NYC and the youth groups] believe the antidynasty principle should be tested even at the SK level,” he said.
Balag-ey said delegates to the 10th National Youth Parliament in May also supported a reform provision in these laws that expands the original 15 to 17 years old age group of SK members, to include 18 to 24 years old Filipinos.
He said this allowed the SK some measure of fiscal autonomy in the villages, another provision in the reform bill.
“The new measure requires SK chairpersons to be 18 to 24 years old, the ages when these young people are legally empowered to sign contracts and be accountable for funds allocated to the youth sector,” Balag-ey said.
The current SK constituency is too young to manage or enforce financial transactions, “so the expenditures are handled by barangay officials, some of whom misuse the funds or divert them to projects of their own choosing,” he said.–Vincent Cabreza
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