MANILA, Philippines – Why not just abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)?
This was the response of some netizens following the decision of the Senate local government committee to postpone the SK polls on October 28 to pave the way for widespread reforms of the youth council.
Committee Chairman Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr sought to explain the decision as he delivered the committee report to the Senate plenary on Wednesday, September 4.
The SK is the 7-member youth council based in barangays. Their members, 15 to 17 years old, traditionally elect their officials during barangay elections. The SK’s predecessor called the Kabataang Barangay was created during the presidency of Marcos’ father, the late Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The SK polls were initially set to coincide with the barangay elections in October.
Here are the reasons the Senate panel is pushing for a one-year postponement of the SK elections:
- Many observed that the SK was not as effective in advancing the democratic ideals of service-oriented youth-leadership.
- Some SK leaders and members were observed to become highly politicized and, worse, were seen to engage in dishonest and corrupt practices in handling public funds.
- Even former Sen Aquilino Pimentel Jr, the author of the Local Government Code, expressed misgivings on how the SK developed through the years.
Marcos said the unanimous opinion of the committee is to reform and restructure the SK. The following are the reforms envisioned:
- For the National Youth Commission – There is a need to reinvent the mandate of the SK, emphasizing its role in effective representation, full accountability and transparency
- For the League of Cities – It is necessary to transform and improve the SK to curb corruption
- For the SK National Federation – The following criticism of the SK must be addressed:
- That the SK members are ineffective, not mature enough, or unprepared to take on leadership roles
- That the activities of the SK are limited to “pa-liga” or sports-related projects
- That many SK members became “absentee officials”
- That SK members only engage in local politics and do not serve the interests of the Filipino youth
- That the SK serves as a breeding ground for errant, corrupt, and traditional politicians
Within a year, Marcos said Congress will work on the SK reform bill so that the country can hold elections immediately after.
Marcos urged the Senate to act swiftly on his proposal because the Commission on Elections is already in the final stages of preparation for the October polls.
During the interpellations, Marcos said there were many issues about the SK that need to be addressed including the age range, and transparency in the use of funds.
The senator said that in other countries, youth leaders are as old as 35 while in the SK, leaders as young as 17 are elected.
“Another issue is whether or not we need an SK council per barangay. Maybe we just need one SK representative per barangay,” he said.
Besides Marcos, the senators who supported the postponement of the SK polls are Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito, and Sen Francis Escudero.
What are your thoughts on the SK? Let us know in the comments section below. – Rappler.com