House panel OKs SK reform bill
MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) hurdled a House of Representatives committee on Wednesday.
The House local government panel unanimously approved the bill after over a year of deliberations.
“This is the response of Congress to the heightened public clamor to weed out partisan politics and the inherent weaknesses that characterized the old SK system,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, one of the bill’s authors, said.
“With the approval of the proposed reforms, we make certain that the elected leaders are fully able and effective to lead and represent the interests of the youth,” he added.
According to the approved measure, the eligible age bracket for SK officials is raised to 18 to 21 years old, from the current 15 to 17 years old. Meanwhile, the age bracket for SK voters is raised from the15 to 17 years old range to the 15 to 21 years old range.
“By increasing the age bracket for elective SK posts we also increase the level of accountability among SK officials, particularly as they would now be old enough to face any charges of wrongdoing,” Gutierrez said.
The approved bill also had an anti-dynasty provision, which require SK officials not to have any relative in elective public office within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity.
“Through this provision, we hope to remodel SK away from the clutches of entrenched traditional and partisan politics into a more progressive and responsive mechanism for youth representation,” the solon said.
The bill also seeks to give more fiscal autonomy to SK officials in terms of operations, disbursements, and encashment of their funds, income and expenditures.
“To fully equip our SK officials in undertaking these tasks, they will be required to undergo mandatory training and seminars on leadership and program development which shall enable them to effectively identify the projects and programs that will best serve their constituents,” Gutierrez said.
Congress was given more time to reform the SK after President Aquino in 2013 signed a bill postponing the SK elections supposed to be held on October 28 that year.
Afterwards, both houses of Congress approved a bill further postponing the SK elections supposed to be held February this year to October 2016, simultaneous with the barangay elections for that year.
Congress had called for the postponement of the polls as it wanted more time to reform the SK.
This as the executive is mulling moves to abolish the SK, seen as prone to corruption upon the prodding of unscrupulous higher officials.
The SK was created in 1975 to give the youth a definite role in community affairs and to provide the government a means to tap the youth in its development efforts.
According to the Local Government Code, the SK is composed of a chairperson, seven members, a secretary and treasurer. The SK chair and members have a term limit of three years.
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