Final SK reform bill with strong anti-dynasty provision gets senators’ nod

The Senate on Wednesday ratified the reconciled version of the Sangguniang Kabatan (SK) reform bill.

The approval came just after Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, reported to the Senate plenary the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2401, which he had earlier sponsored, and House Bill No. 6043, sponsored by Rep. Pedro B. Acharon, his counterpart in the House of Representatives.

Sixteen senators voted in favor of the “Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015,” namely, Senate President Franklin Drilon, President Pro Tempore Ralph 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 Villar, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Loren Legarda, Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero, Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, and Marcos. Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III abstained.

The bicam committee report needs to be signed by Senate and House of Representatives officials, then it will be sent to President Aquino for signature to become a law.

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 measure seeks to organize in every barangay the Katipunan ng Kabataan composed of 15-30 years old Filipino youth who shall elect the SK officials who are at least 18 but not more than 24 years of age for a fixed 3-year term of office, unless sooner removed for a cause.

“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, which 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 of the youth in local governance is expressed in section 23 of the bill, which provides for the establishment of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), which 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 bicam panel is the capability and orientation towards nation building through mandatory and continuing training program to be attended by SK officials, elected and appointed, and members of LYDC to mold them to become better citizens with the values of patriotism, nationalism and honor as a Filipino.

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