Filipino youth: Safeguard your ‘patrimoney’!

Lou Gepuela

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With no SK elections this year, the youth need to know how money meant for them will be spent by barangays all over the country

Republic Act 10632, signed into law by President Aquino last October 3, 2013, postponed the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections, prohibited the holdover of elected youth officials, and directed COMELEC to set new elections between October 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015.

Section 4 of that law also says that “until the new set of officials have been duly elected and qualified, the Sangguniang barangay shall use the Sangguniang Kabataan fund solely for youth development programs.”

A very well-funded mandate

Not many people realize that this bland statement from Congress practically gave a blank check to barangays nationwide, to the tune of at least P6-billion

Section 329 of the Local Government Code provides that 10% of the general fund of the barangay shall be set aside for the Sangguniang Kabataan.

In the absence of these duly-elected youth representatives to maintain a semblance of oversight, who ensures that the money goes where it should?

The Filipino youth maintain that primary responsibility, as residents in their respective barangays.

How do they do this while the SK is prorogued, and without Sangguniang Kabataan leadership?

Of the youth, for the youth, by the youth

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 10632, published the day before this year’s first Synchronized Barangay Assembly Day specify that the member of the Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council) elected as the chairperson of the Committee on Women and Family becomes chairperson of the Committee on Youth and Sports Development, with oversight over youth programs.

This Kagawad (Barangay Councilor) heads a Task Force on Youth Development, composed of eight (8) members, nominated by the Katipunan ng Kabataan (Youth Assembly).

They must be 15-17 years of age, of good moral character, and residents of the barangay for at least 6 months. They should not be related to barangay officials within the fourth degree of consanguinity and affinity.

Who nominates the eight Task Force members?

Youth organizations operating within the barangay, and the Katipunan ng Kabataan, nominate the 8 members of the Task Force on Youth Development.

The Katipunan ng Kabataan

Section 423 of Republic Act 7160, The Local Government Code of 1991, as amended, provides for a legal entity known as the “Katipunan ng Kabataan” (Youth Assembly), composed of:

  • Filipino citizens actually resident in the barangay for at least six (6) months,
  • aged fifteen (15) to eighteen (18) years of age, and
  • duly registered in the list of the sangguniang kabataan, or

the official barangay list in the custody of the barangay secretary.

The Katipunan ng Kabataan is supposed to meet:

  • at least once every 3 months, or
  • upon written petition of one-twentieth (or 5%) of its members, or
  • at the call of the Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan,

In the absence of initiative from the youth in the community, or a Presidential Proclamation setting specific dates for the Katipunan ng Kabataan Assembly Days, how is it supposed to convene without the Chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan?

The answer is simple: Through the mechanism of the Barangay Assembly, which can be summoned to meet anytime:

  • at the call of the Punong Barangay, or
  • at the call of four (4) members of the Sangguniang Barangay, or
  • upon written petition of five percent (5%) of the members of the Barangay Assembly

Provided, that in all cases, one week’s written notice is given. The Katipunan ng Kabataan, after all, is a subset, or a component, of the Barangay Assembly.

Public notice required

The names of these nominees must be posted in the bulletin board of the barangay hall for three (3) consecutive days, and must specify the date, place, and time of the hearing of the Sangguniang Barangay to discuss their nominations.

The hearing takes place so that the capabilities and qualifications of the nominees are properly assessed, and that public feedback may be provided.

The Task Force on Youth Development must be organized in all barangays within thirty (30) days from the effectivity of the IRR, or just before the end of April.

Spending priorities

The IRR specifies that funds be allocated to Youth Development Programs and Projects, and administered as follows:

 Image from National Youth Commission 

Alternative youth participation through the Green Brigade

Aside from the Task Force on Youth Development, the Katipunan ng Kabataan, and the Barangay Assembly, there is another way for Filipino youth to engage with their respective barangays.

Executive Order 52, Series of 1998, issued by President Estrada, created a Youth Environmental Corps as a part of the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan. It creates a Green Brigade in every barangay:

  • composed of at least 25 members of the Katipunan ng Kabataan,
  • aged 15 to 18 years old,
  • with a Green Brigade secretary and a Green Brigade treasurer, who are elected from among the members of the Green Brigade, as well as appropriate committees and bodies.

Section 4 of the EO mandates that 10% of the annual budget of the Sangguniang Kabataan is automatically allocated for the operations of the Green Brigade, ‘subject to applicable budgetary laws, rules and regulations.’

The Green Brigade has authority to hold fund-raising activities, and has powers to:

  • Formulate and implement the local youth environmental action plan addressing specific environmental concerns of the barangay;
  • Undertake educational projects promoting youth partnership in sustainable development programs of the barangay – such as awareness campaigns, clean-up drives, and tree-planting activities;
  • Maintain links with existing youth groups in the barangay for coordinated youth action;
  • Propose barangay  ordinances promoting sustainable development, environmental protection, natural resources conservation and preservation, and exercise other powers and functions necessary and incidental for the performance of its mandate. 

Vital role in nation-building

The youth have a vital role in nation-building. This is enshrined and recognized by the State in Article II, Section 13 of the Constitution.

Aside from promoting and protecting their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being, the State is also constitutionally directed to inculcate patriotism and nationalism in the youth, and to encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs. 

No amount of government support will matter, however, if no one picks up the torch of civic duty.

Leadership is a personal choice, and an empowered and engaged citizenry starts with that moment of discernment.

The money is there, the structure is there. The only thing missing are young Filipino citizens willing to take up this patriotic challenge. Isn’t it time to get involved?

Lou Gepuela is a Filipino citizen who believes that sustained public engagement with government and continued community empowerment is the missing link in fixing a significant portion of society’s ills. He spent 5 years learning and applying process improvement, people management, and customer care skills in the local BPO industry.

Image behind SK logo is from Shutterstock.

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