By Mario Casayuran | Manila Bulletin
The Senate ratified yesterday a reconciled version of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) reform bill, with a vote of 16-1-0.
The bill enhances youth participation in governance, institutes a strict anti-dynasty provision, youth empowerment, and capability building anchored on strong principles for nation building.
The approval came after Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate local government committee, delivered the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions of the two bills of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Marcos had authored Senate Bill No. 2401 (SK reform bill) while its counterpart measure at the Lower Chamber, House Bill No. 6043, was sponsored by Rep. Pedro B. Acharon.
The 16 senators who voted in favor of the “Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015’’ were Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia A. Villar, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Loren Legarda, Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero, Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, and Marcos.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, of the minority bloc, abstained.
The bicameral committee report requires ratification by the Senate and the House of Representatives before it will be sent to President Aquino for his signature to become law.
The measure seeks to organize the Katipunan ng Kabataan in every barangay. The organization shall be composed of 15 to 30-year-old Filipino youth who shall elect the SK officials for a fixed three-year term of office, unless sooner removed for a cause. Those elected should be at least 18 but not more than 24 years of age.
“I changed the current 15-17 age range because they are ineligible to sign contracts. In the first place, the youth under Republic Act 8044 refers to persons whose ages range from 15 to 30 years old,” Marcos said.
Marcos said one of the highlights of the measure is the strong anti-dynasty provision under section 10. It states that officials of the SK “must not be related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to any incumbent elected national official or to any incumbent elected regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official, in the locality where he or she seeks to be elected.”
Youth empowerment and wide participation in local governance is expressed in section 23 of the bill, which provides the establishment of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC). It shall be called Provincial Youth Development Council, City Youth Development Council and Municipal Youth Development Council.
Another reform introduced by Marcos, and adopted by the bicameral panel, is the capability and orientation towards nation building through mandatory and continuing training program. It shall be attended by SK officials, elected and appointed, and members of LYDC. The training program aims to mold the youth to become better citizens with the values of patriotism, nationalism and honor as a Filipino.