Bill on Second Reading: Amendments to the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2015 (continuation)

4 February 2015

The President. Senator Marcos is recognized.

Senator Marcos. Thank you, Mr. President.

Anent to our discussion in yesterday’s session, we have formulated an individual amendment to the SK Reform Bill which would attend or which would remedy the perceived differences that were implied in the previous version between national and local governments and as the Senate President would remember, we went even further to include appointed positions. And so, the wording would be, we would change...

The President. So, we are on page 8?

Senator Marcos. We are on page 8, line 23, we would change the word “related” to insert the phrase WITHIN THE SECOND CIVIL DEGREE OF CONSANGUINITY OR AFFINITY.

Before I move for those amendments, if I may go through and to do them all, that is on subject on what we have discussed is an amendment that we are proposing at some point on page 8A on line 24a, where we will remove the phrase, “within the SECOND civil degree of consanguinity or affinity” and in lieu, thereof, insert the phrase, OR TO ANY APPOINTED GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE CLASSIFIED AS SALARY GRADE 22 OR HIGHER UNDER THE COMPENSATION AND POSITION CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1989 WHO IS HOLDING OFFICE IN THE SAME PROVINCE OR HIGHLY URBANIZED CITY OR INDEPENDENT CITY WITH THE BARANGAY WHERE HE OR SHE SEEKS TO BE ELECTED IS SITUATED.

The President. So, can the Sponsor read the new provision now starting on line 23 on page 8? How does it read now?


So, we have tried to accommodate all of the discussions that we had amongst our colleagues in yesterday’s session, Mr. President.

However, Mr. President, before I move for its inclusion as an amendment to the SK Reform bill, it is my understanding that the acting Minority Leader has questions on exactly this point. So, I would like, with the permission of the Chair, to yield to the Minority Leader on this matter.

The President. The Minority Leader is recognized.

Senator Sotto. Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. President, I was thinking about our discussion last night and I was afraid that we might be…I am pertaining to this particular provision of the SK Reform bill. We might be preempting the larger debate on the issue of anti-political dynasty. Let me put it this way, Mr. President. Ayaw natin at ito ang sentimento ng karamihan, ayaw natin na ang nagiging SK ay iyong anak noong barangay captain, hindi po ba? Iyon ang talagang major issue.

Senator Marcos. That was the criticism leveled at the SK and in our studies mukha naman talagang prevalent iyong ganoong klaseng practice. And, in fact, that is why we felt we had to address the issue.

Senator Sotto. All right. Now, in a city like Manila then let us take a city which is smaller or smaller number of barangays, Quezon City. In Manila, there are 896 barangays; in Quezon City, there 140 barangays. If we prevent the son of the mayor from being SK, isang barangay lang iyong affected siya. Isang barangay lang ang affected niya and most probably the barangay will be happy to have as an SK representative the son of the mayor. Pero what we are going to do with this provision now, madadamay natin lahat, madadamay natin lahat ng kamag-anak within the second degree of consanguinity noong mga mayor, vice mayor, governor, vice governor, pati city treasurer or city secretary, city administrator. Ang talagang ayaw lang naman natin iyong barangay captain gagawing SK iyong anak niya. So, my appeal to the distinguished gentleman whose younger sister was the original founder of the KB....

         Senator Marcos. Excuse me po, elder sister.

         Senator Sotto. No, I always thought she was younger.

         Senator Marcos. Many people thought that but I am....

         Senator Sotto. May I ask the....

         Senator Marcos. Magagalit sa akin ang aking kapatid pero, just in the interest of good order, I would just like to put on record that, in fact, Governor Imee Marcos is my older sister.

Senator Sotto. I am sorry then, I was about to ask the Secretary to send a copy of the Journal on this portion to the governor of Ilocos Norte. [Laughter] But, anyway, I would like to appeal to the distinguished gentleman to consider this before he really closes that particular provision. Baka puwede barangay official na lang. Ang talagang ibawal natin iyong barangay official, huwag natin idamay lahat because we will go into the larger issue of anti-political dynasty. Baka lumaki ang problema.

Senator Marcos. One of the reasons that we feel that we have to include the higher officials, ang aming original na pinag-usapan ay hanggang province, hanggang city ay there is a distinct possibility kapag anak ng mayor or kahit anak ng governor ang naging SK ay ipaglalaban ng kanyang pamilya na siya ay maging ex-officio member, unang-una sa municipality dahil sa ABC at magiging ex-officio member hanggang sa sangguniang panlalawigan again dahil ma-elect ng ABC. Kaya’t the observation that it will only affect that barangay, is not necessarily the case because if influence is exerted by a higher official then it is entirely possible that an SK member will then become an ex-officio member not only of the city, municipality but, in fact, all the way up to the province. That is the reason why ang original na limit namin na limitation doon sa anti-dynasty provision was until the province, until we had that discussions po yesterday. So that is the reason why we had originally extended it to the provincial level until the Chair brought up the different issues that were surrounding that proposed amendment, Mr. President.

Senator Sotto. Mr. President, yes, I recognize the point of the gentleman. As a matter of fact, I was in agreement even yesterday but on second thought while I was thinking of it last night, listening to what the gentleman said now, perhaps, we can make a provision disallowing the SK chairman who is related to the governor or to the mayor to be in the sanggunian instead. Instead of pre-empting everyone else, baka po puwede natin tingnan iyong wisdom nitong idea na ito, sapagkat talagang barangay lang ang problema naman natin in the first place, eh. Baka makagawa tayo ng provision dito na ipagbawal natin na iyong SK maging councilor representative or provincial board representative, isa lang iyon eh. Isa lang iyon, like, as I said, Manila, 896 barangays, 895 na barangays ipagbabawal na natin ang mga kamag-anak ng public at elected official na maging SK samantalang isang barangay lang talaga ang wino-worry natin, and then in Quezon City, 140. Baka po puwede ano....

Senator Marcos. Well, Mr. President, I leave it to the legal luminaries of the Body, but in my understanding there is no way that we can only apply a certain limitation on the basis of their relationship with a higher official. In other words, iyong sina-suggest ng ating butihing Minority Leader, hindi yata kayang isabatas na sabihin dahil anak ka, kahit pinayagan ka maging SK hindi ka maaring tumakbo bilang ABC ng city, ng municipality at saka ng

Although the sentiment that is behind that suggestion is well-appreciated, I do not know if there is a legal way to do it that would be proper in the sense that, again, the issues of equal protection are attended to.

Senator Ejercito. Mr. President, may I be recognized?

The President. Yes, Senator Ejercito is recognized, with the permission of Senator Marcos and Senator Sotto.

Senator Sotto. Yes.

Senator Marcos. Certainly. Because Sen. JV Ejercito was actually in our discussions, the proponent of this provision on the anti-dynasty.

Senator Ejercito. Yes, with the indulgence of the Sponsor.

Senator Marcos. I yield the Floor to the gentleman from San Juan.

Senator Ejercito. Yes, Mr. President and distinguished Minority Leader. One of the more salient and more important features of the SK Reform Act is, probably, the anti-dynasty provision. Actually, a lot of those who are really against or for the abolition of the SK system are now excited because with this anti-dynasty provision the proponents of the SK Reform say that we are really for reforms. We are really serious in our reform for the system. And going back to the discussion a while ago, it is a good suggestion from the Minority Leader that only the barangay captain's son or children--

Senator Sotto. Barangay officials.

Senator Ejercito. --barangay officials. But, Mr. President, when I was still in the House of Representatives, as far as I can remember, we conducted also a hearing regarding the SK Reform and all the SKs were there. The federation were there to represent the SK. And I remember asking who of them were related to any barangay officials, probably, about 50% raised their hands. Then, I asked also who of them were related to any local officials, meaning, a mayor, governor, vice mayor, about 40%. So, about nine out of 10 are relatedreally to any local official, not only barangay officials.

Doon po sa concern ni Minority Leader that only barangay officials' kids will be disallowed, the reason why we included the local officials, meaning, mayors and governors, is that the SK federation president will automatically become an ex-officio member of the city, or municipal council or the provincial council.

So, it is a coveted position. Kaya nga isa na rin sa ating paraan para matanggal iyon, iyong influence peddling, powerplay, because it is one seat. The mayors and the governors likewise want to get. Sometimes they fill their sons or daughters so that they will have one seat in the provincial, city or municipal council.

I just wanted to let our Minority Leader know the rationale behind why we wanted to include the municipal city and the provincial officials.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Senator Sotto. Well, Mr. President, I do also understand the point. But kung tutuusin po, kung gusto talaga noong mayor or noong governor na hawak niya iyong SK na uupo, kahit hindi niya kaano-ano iyon kaya niyang gawin iyon. Kahit hindi niya kamag-anak iyon. That is the problem.

Well, anyway, that is my suggestion. I hope it is considered. May I be allowed to suggest a….If the gentleman wants this voted on now, I will not object but if I may be allowed to craft a phrase that might cover my suggestion, especially when the sangguniang panlungsod or pambayan and the sangguniang panlalawigan ang maaapektuhan, baka po pwede akong humabol pa later on. But let me rephrase that. If the gentleman is willing to wait, I can try to give him a suggestion on Monday. If he is not going to accept it, then so be it.

Senator Marcos. Mr. President, before I respond to Senator Sotto, I would just like to add to the comments of Senator Ejercito that it is only natural for us to expect that if a governor's son or daughter is elected as an SK in a barangay that ipaglalaban nila nang husto na magiging youth representative iyan sa municipality at magiging youth representative iyan sa board dahil ang governor magkakaroon ng karagdagang isang boto na tiyak doon sa kaniyang provincial board. The same thing, kung ang anak ng mayor ay naging SK, nakakatiyak tayo na ipaglalaban niya iyan na siya ang magiging ex-officio youth representative ng sangguniang bayan o sangguniang panlungsod. Kaya't this is the influence that we are trying to avoid.

Now, the dynamic that Senator Sotto is describing na nagbabata ng tao kahit hindi niya kamag-anak, that is the natural process of politics dahil kukuha ka ng kakampi mo. Although barangay elections and barangay matters are meant to be non-partisan, naturaly, one will try to have his own kaalyado to have a vote para may mas marami siyang kakampi. So, I do not think that is a process that we would like to avoid. It is a normal process of politics during elections.

So, I do not think that that is something that we have to guard against. That is the point that I am trying to make. What we have to guard against and what we are trying to do with this anti-dynasty provision is the influence that will be exerted by higher officials so that their sons or daughters will be elected as ex-officio members in their sanggunians. That kind of undue influence is what we are trying to avoid. And the promotion of the continuing dominance of one family in an area is also what we are trying to avoid.

So, kung ang higher official meron siyang naging kaibigan na SK at ipaglalaban niya ng youth representative, there is nothing wrong with that. Lahat naman pag eleksyon nagbubuo ng grupo at iyang grupong iyan ay ipinaglalaban, ikinakampanya para manalo ang mga kasama.

So, I do not feel that there is a danger in that although I do feel that there is a danger in the recognized dynamic that a parent who is holding a high position will exert all influence possible, not only because it is his child who is in position or who is in the election, but also because it will add to their percentage within the board, whatever the board is, whether it is a provincial board or the city or municipal. So, that is my response to the gentleman from Quezon City.

Senator Sotto. All right.   Mr. President, in that case, if that is the position, we are practically saying that the national officials have nothing to do with that because hindi naman sila pwedeng makialam sa provincial board or sa sangguniang panlungsod o pambayan. What does the gentleman think?

Senator Marcos. Halimbawa, to use an example closer to home, I am sure any of the senators here can exert influence in their home provinces and home communities when it comes to this election of SK or any other election for that matter.

In my own experience, I came from local government. So, what happens in local government is of great interest to me and I continue to be involved in the discussions and the political decisions that are being made simply because I am a constituent of my province, Ilocos Norte, and I have a say as a former governor and as a senator.

So, again, that is something that we want to minimize. It is not something that, I think, we can remove completely but certainly we want to minimize to give an opportunity for those who have not really been involved in government to be involved in government; to encourage them kasi maraming nangyayari, sinasabi ng SK, "Hindi na ako tatakbo dahil ang magiging kalaban ko anak ni mayor, wala akong panalo diyan". That is the precise situation that we want to avoid. And so to encourage people who are not in government to come into, young people to come into government, kaya naman we have a vibrant discussion, we have a vibrant debate when it comes to the different issues in the local community.

         That is why in our discussions yesterday, while the original proposal was only to include the barangay, it was then extended all the way to the provincial officials. We also included now the national officials and even the appointed officials. Kaya't doon nga tayo nahirapan kung papaano natin….where we will delineate the….where we will draw the line as to where the appointed officials' children should be allowed, which of the appointed officials will allow their children to run for SK.

         As a matter of fact, I would even argue that a national official has a great deal more influence in the local community than the mayor or the governor. So, again, that is something that we are trying to avoid and that is what we have tried to attend to. This is the issue that we have tried to remedy with these amendments that I had read out and hope to propose.

         Senator Sotto. Anyway, Mr. President, I believe that we have discussed it exhaustively and, therefore, I just leave it to the hands of the Chairman if he will accept my proposal or not.

         Senator Marcos. Mr. President, I feel that we must stick to our guns on this issue to include not only barangay and local officials but also national and appointed officials. And as I had read it in what will be my proposed amendment, it will be Salary Grade 22 and above.

         The President. What would be Salary Grade 22, Senator Marcos?

         Senator Marcos. The reason we have Salary Grade 22 is that the principals of schools are Salary Grade 22 and the conduct of the elections involved, as we all know, the DepEd, that is why we brought it all the way down to Salary Grade 22.

         The President. Thank you.

         Senator Marcos. With that, I am sorry to say that we do not accept the proposed amendments of the Minority Leader and we feel that the formulation as I have read it is the one that will actually give meat to the anti-dynasty intention.

         Senator Sotto. May I just then register my abstention on this particular provision when it is voted on, Mr. President.

         The President. Thank you, Senator Sotto.

         What does the sponsor now….

         Senator Marcos. Mr. President, if I may, I would like to then propose additional individual amendments to the….

         The President. Can the sponsor restate that particular amendments?

         Senator Marcos. I will do that, Mr. President.

         So, the individual amendments are these:


         On page 8, line 23, after the word "related", insert the phrase WITHIN THE SECOND CIVIL DEGREE OF CONSANGUINITY OR AFFINITY. I so move, Mr. President.

         The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the amendment is approved.

         Senator Marcos. On the same page and line after the word "elected", insert the phrase NATIONAL OFFICIALS OR ANY INCUMBENT ELECTED PROVINCIAL. I so move, Mr. President.

         The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the amendment is approved. Record the abstention of the Minority Leader.


         I so move, Mr. President.

         The President.   With the abstention of Senator Sotto, the amendment is approved.

         Senator Marcos.   That is the extent of the individual amendments that I intend to propose. Thank you.

         Senator Sotto.   Mr. President.

         The President.   Senator Sotto is recognized.

         Senator Sotto.   May I be allowed to propose another individual amendment, with the permission of the gentleman.

         The President.   Please proceed.

         Senator Sotto.   I move that we reconsider a previous amendment that was accepted.   This is the age qualification.

         The President.   Can we have the page?

         Senator Sotto.   Page 9, line 4, Mr. President.

         The President.   Please proceed.


         Senator Sotto.   Originally, the bill that was reported out by the gentleman stated that the age qualification should be from 18 to 24.   And I understand that he accepted an amendment that it be stretched to 27.

         I would like to ask that the gentleman reconsider that it be brought back to TWENTY-FOUR (24).   The reason is that, we should have a layering in the age qualification.   Pagka25and above, hindi na kabataan iyon, to be very blunt about it.

         Second, 25 years old is qualified already to be a congressman. That is the age limit of a congressman, 35 for a senator and 40 for President and Vice President. So, why will we allow a 27-year old to be SK?   Let us bring it back to 24.

         Senator Marcos.   Mr. President, first of all, on the statement that 25 and above is no longer young or youth, I would have to point to the experience and the practice of several other countries, in fact, where up to 35 is considered part of the youth.   The country of Malaysia is 35.   The other countries in ASEAN are 30. The United Nations uses the age 30 for the cutoff in terms of the youth. And so we are trying to put ourselves in consonance with those other practices so that when it comes to international relations between our youth movement and the youth movement of other countries and the United Nations that we are, as I said, in consonance with their definitions. I think that the experience of the other countries speaks well of that kind of classification.

         Senator Sotto.     May I know from the gentleman, in those other countries that he mentioned if there is a limit on the age of a congressman, a parliamentarian or a President or a Vice President?

         Senator Marcos.   There are limits as well, but the limits do overlap.   As the gentleman has explained, 25 years old qualifies one to be a congressman.   I do not have the details with me right now. I am happy to supply the Minority Leader with those details.   But there are situations where members of parliament, for example, need to be 30 or can be younger and youth is still recognized as 30. So, that kind of overlap which is being illustrated by the gentleman is present in those.   Nevertheless, it seems to work well.

I would just like to remind the Body that the reason that we put the age higher was to answer the valid criticism that the young people aged 15 to 17 are in school and cannot attend to their jobs and their duties as SK officials. Furthermore, they are unable to sign documents; they are unable to enter into contract; because they are not yet in the age of majority, they are not able to do many of the things that are required of them as SK officials and have to depend on their barangay officials for those functions. So that is just to give a backgrounder. That is the reason. That was a very important part of our deliberations. And that is why this is the result of those deliberations.

         Senator Sotto. I am in full agreement on the 18 years old, Mr. President. But I would like to insist that the gentleman consider a maximum of 24 years old--18 to 24--his original committee report, if possible.


         Senator Marcos. Mr. President, may we have a one-minute suspension of the session.

         The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the session is suspended for one minute.

It was 4:46 p.m.


         At 4:48 p.m., the session was resumed.

         The President. The session is resumed.

         Senator Marcos. Thank you, Mr. President.

         Mr. President, I would just like to clarify that what we are talking about here is the age of the prospective candidates or the entire katipunan ng kabataan.

         Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the candidates.

         Senator Marcos. The candidates.

In which case, Mr. President, we accept the amendment that is proposed by the gentleman.

The President. All right. There is a motion for a reconsideration which will now bring back line 4 on page 9….

Senator Sotto. I stand corrected on that page, Mr. President. I am not too sure about the page.

The President. Can we please point it out correctly?

Senator Sotto. Kasi candidates lamang ang pinag-uusapan.


         Mr. President, may we have a one-minute suspension of the session.

         The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the session is suspended for one minute.

It was 4:49 p.m.


At 4:50 p.m., the session was resumed.

The President. The session is resumed.

Senator Sotto is recognized.

Senator Sotto. Thank you, Mr. President. I stand corrected. I should have pertained to page 8, Section 10.

The President. Page 8, Section 10, line....

Senator Sotto. Line 20a.

The President. Lines 20, 20a and 21. The amendment, if I got the Minority Leader correctly, is to delete on line 20, "TWENTY SEVEN (27)", in words and figures; on line 20a, delete the phrase, "YEARS OF AGE AT THE TIME OF THE ELECTION"; remove the BRACKET [] on line 20a; and on line 21, delete the BRACKET []. Is that correct?

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President, precisely, correct.

Senator Marcos. Very well, we accept, Mr. President.

The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the amendment is accepted.

Senator Marcos. If we do that, Mr. President, we will also have to amend line 4 on page 9. The same, we will delete the words and numbers TWENTY SEVEN (27) and restore TWENTY-FOUR [24] YEARS OF AGE AT THE TIME OF.

Senator Sotto. In words and numbers.

The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved.

Senator Sotto. Thank you, Mr. President. I wish to thank the gentleman and the sponsors also of the measure for accepting the amendment.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Is there any other amendment, Mr. Sponsor?


Senator Marcos. Yes, Mr. President, it has been pointed out to me that on page 1, line 4, it still reads, "Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014". So, the proposed amendment is, on page 1, line 4, change the year 2014 to 2015.

I so move, Mr. President.

The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the amendment is approved.

Senator Marcos. That is all, Mr. President.