WE STAND! WE RETAIN! WE REGAIN!
No to SK Abolition! Yes to SK Reformation!
- Howard Mumford Jones
It is enshrined in Section 13, Article II of the Philippine Constitution that [T]he State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs. In response to this constitutional provision the Congress in 1991, created the SK-Youth Council or Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) for the purpose of introducing the young people to government service in local, provincial, and national levels.
Nevertheless, after sixteen (16) years of existence, many have been seriously skeptic on the importance of SK, that even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself once said "I think it's a good idea," Scrap that Useless Thing, since much resources and energy were given but no result had been fulfilled.
There were numerous attempts to abolish the SK, in 2002 Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Benjamin Abalos himself wanted to abolish the SK because according to him it is doing more harm than good instead of harnessing their ideals by involving youths in their communities, exposing them to politics at such an early age only corrupts them. The issue even reached the Plenary of the 13th Congress, when Representative Gilbert Remulla filled House Bill No. 185 which tended to abolish the SK.
Now, as the 2007 Barangay and SK synchronized election is coming the call for the abolition of SK is resurrected, the League of City Mayors of the Philippines (LCMP) have agreed the Sangguniang Kabataan should be abolished, saying SK officials could not divide their time between schoolwork and responsibilities in the SK, according to a top official of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines. The mayors do not openly speak [about the issue] because of political reasons, but they are for the abolition of the SK, Mayor Ramon Guico, LMP president, said.
Even the countrys student governments want the abolition of the non-performing SK. They announced in their manifesto that they would launch a letter-writing campaign. Benralph Yu, president of the Region XI Federation of Student Governments, said student councils are better equipped to represent the countrys youth than the SK, that they could begin community work to make up for the vacuum opened if the SK is abolished. They viewed SK officials now as the BIMPO, stands for Batang Inudyukan ng Magulang sa POlitika or Ang Anak ng TRAPO.
However, we believe that despite of the many flaws of the present structure of the SK, it is one of the most relevant youth participation in building a strong Nation, hence, we would like to propose the following for possible amendments to certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7160 (R.A. 9184) as known as the Local Government Code, Book III, Chapter 8 Sangguniang Kabataan:
1. Increase age bracket of the Katipunang Kabataan (KK) from 15 to 17 to 15-21 and age qualification bracket of SK officials to 18-21, amending Sections 424 and 248 therein. We believe that SK officials should have juridical capacity as provided in Civil Code, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations x x x [the] capacity to act, which is the power to do acts with legal effects, and this can be acquired once majority commences at the age of eighteen (18) years;
2. Give some degree of fiscal autonomy to the SK like those granted in other Local Government Units in order that the youth councils wont be beholden or wont be used for partisan activities by the barangay elders and the mayors. This fiscal autonomy will entail legislation for the SKs share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) to be released directly to the youth councils;
3. Increase relevant trainings of the SK which focuses on their functions as SK officials, this can be done through coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Youth Commission (NYC), Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Sports Commission (NSC), and other National Government Agencies, Local Government Units (LGUs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs);
4. Provide for provisions that will depoliticize the SK, as proposed by AKBAYAN Party-List Representative Ana Theresia Hontiveros Baraquel in her House Bill No. 959, introducing the Anti-Dynasty provision as stated in Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution to avoid corruption and patronage, and
5. Support the recommendations made by the study conducted by the UP group entitled as Study on the Impact of the Youth participation in the Local Development Process: The Sangguniang Kabataan Experience.