Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government yesterday House Bill 5209 seeking to postpone Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on February 21 has been approved at the committee level after yesterday’s hearing of the panel.
But Marcos stressed that the central issue is the pending passage of the SK Reform Bill, explaining that the postponement may only be necessary because of the “significant and fundamental changes” that the reform measure will institute in the system of youth representation.
“I really would like to change the perception that the central issue in discussion between the House and the Senate is the postponement; the postponement is merely a side issue actually depending upon the version (of the SK Reform Bill) that would eventually be agreed upon by both Houses of Congress,” he said.
He said the SK Reform Bill will likely affect the voter’s list and the system of election for youth representatives so the Commission on Elections and other concerned agencies may need time to make the necessary preparations and changes.
Marcos authored Senate Bill 2041, which seeks reform in the age of SK officials, provide training to professionalize and instill in elected SK member their responsibilities, and enforce the anti-dynasty law down to the barangay level.
“We approved it (HB 5029) in the committee level so we are ready in case we really need the postponement. In the meantime, the Senate and the House could continue our work on the passage of the SK Reform Bill,” Marcos said.
Marcos noted that resource persons in the hearing, including representatives from the Commission on Elections, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the National Youth Commission, and the leagues of local government units, are unanimous in their support of the postponement of the SK polls.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., recalled that the poll body supported the previous postponement of the SK polls in 2013 so the next election for youth council can be held under an SK Reform Law.
“We believe that absent any reform law, we should still postpone it so we can give time for both Houses (of Congress) to come out with a reform law and them come out with a new election date,” Brillantes said.
He added that postponing the February 21 elections would also solve some of the problems of the Comelec which is now in the thick of preparations for the 2016 presidential elections and save money at the same time.
“It would be a useless expense for us to spend P1.1 billion still under the old SK law, without any reform bill,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes said early passage of the bill postponing the SK polls would also enable the Comelec to stop purchases related to preparations for the February 21 elections. So far, the poll body has spent P6.3 million for the purpose.
Marcos said he would attend immediately to the preparation of the committee report and coordinate with the Senate leadership so he can sponsor the postponement bill as soon as possible.