Senators open to postponing SK polls pending reforms bill
MANILA, Philippines – At least two senators have expressed their openness to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) elections, currently scheduled on February 21, pending the passage of a reform law in Congress.
In a statement on Thursday, January 22, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said he favored holding the SK election when a law reforming the youth council system is already in place.
Conducting the elections under the old SK law, as scheduled, would render all discussions to reform the SK as "useless," he argued.
"That is why my position is precisely, we can talk of any date of SK election as long as it will be under a new SK reform law," he said.
Another SK reform proponent, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, also stated his inclination toward the polls' postponement.
In a text message, one of his staff members said that Aquino's current position is "SK postponement with reform."
The House of Representatives has passed a bill postponing the SK polls anew to October 2016. It is now up to the Senate to take up the matter.
On Friday, Marcos' committee on local government would tackle the said House bill at the Senate.
Invited are Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr, National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Gio Tingson, and the presidents of provincial, city, municipal, and barangay leagues.
Marcos reiterated his stand in favor of the passage of SK reforms. "I did not compromise at all on the SK reform. For me, this is non-negotiable."
Marcos authored Senate Bill 2401, which introduces reforms in the youth representation system.
Among the proposed changes are: the adjustment of the age bracket of youth officials to 18-24 years old; provisions for fiscal autonomy and a mandatory training program; the enforcement of anti-dynasty provisions; and, the creation of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), composed of youth leaders from various sectors.
Giving Congress more time to study and reconcile all SK reform bill versions in the House and Senate "would result to a better bill that would benefit the Filipino youth in the long run," said Marcos.
Meanwhile, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr expressed hope that the SK polls would be postponed once again by Congress.
"I'm very optimistic that it would be postponed, I just don't want to say for sure," said Brillantes.
Brillantes has been pushing for the rescheduling of the SK polls since it was first postponed in October 2013 to allow Congress to formulate reforms in the SK system. But with a month left before the February polls, an SK reform law has yet to be passed, he said.
"I don't think we should have any election for SK unless reforms have been passed. Because in the old system, it's not really working," said Brillantes.
In the meantime, the Comelec has rescheduled the start of the SK election period, as well as that of the gun ban, to February 6, in anticipation of the decision by Congress.
"We will always have to assume that it would proceed, because that's stated in the law. As long as a postponement for it has not been issued, the polls would proceed," Brillantes said. – Rappler.com