Senators, Comelec at odds over SK polls postponement
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is all set for the February 21 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) elections, although it maintains that the exercise should be postponed to October 2016.
At least two senators, however, are "not inclined" to side with the Comelec.
On Wednesday, January 21, a day before the start of the SK election period, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr reiterated his case in favor of the poll postponement.
When the youth elections were first postponed in October 2013, explained Brillantes, "the arrangement is it would be postponed for one year and there should be a reform law." But up to now, an SK reform law has yet to be passed, he said.
Brillantes also said the Comelec would spend between P900 million and P1.1 billion to conduct the SK polls in February to elect officials aged 15 to 17 years old whose terms will still end in October 2016, or less than two years.
In addition, he said, it is hampering the Comelec's preparations for the May 2016 national elections.
"Sayang ang pera, sayang ang oras, sayang ang preparasyon ng ibang commissioners for 2016," Brillantes said. (Money is wasted, time is wasted, the preparations of the other commissioners for the 2016 polls are wasted.)
The House of Representatives in December sided with the Comelec and passed a bill to postpone the SK polls for a second time to October 2016, in sync with the next barangay (village) polls.
But in the Senate, Brillantes said Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Ferdinand Marcos Jr "are not inclined to postpone the polls further."
Without a counterpart bill in the Senate, the House bill won't help postpone the polls. "Under the existing law, it's really set for February 21," Brillantes said.
Time running out on reforms
Meanwhile, Senator Aquino said "time is running out" on the passage of reforms in the youth representation system.
In a statement on Wednesday, Aquino reiterated a plea to his colleagues to immediately pass Senate Bill 2401 or the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014. Aquino and Marcos are among its co-authors. (READ: 3 senators push immediate passage of SK reform bill)
Among the proposed changes in the SK system are the adjustment of the age bracket of youth officials to 18-24 years old, the provision of a mandatory training program, and the creation of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), composed of youth leaders from various sectors.
"The reforms we are pushing are crucial, as they will harness volunteerism among the youth and pull them away from clutches of partisan politics," the senator said.
If the SK reform bill would not be passed in time, Aquino said the SK polls in February will push through with the current problematic system. – Rappler.com