Sen. Bongbong Marcos delivers a sponsorship speech for the SK reform bill

Sponsorship speech of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Sangguniang Kabataan reform bills on October 29, 2014 at Senate Session Hall

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I have the honor to report senate bill no. 2401, taking into consideration senate bill nos. 68 and 1090, under committee report no. 75.

The substitute bill is entitled “an act establishing enabling mechanisms for meaningful youth participation in nation building, strengthening the Sangguniang Kabataan, creating the municipal, city and provincial youth development councils, and for other purposes”.

Article ii, section 13 of the constitution provides that “the 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”. Pursuant thereto, the local government code of 1991, specifically under book iii, chapters 8-10 thereof, had mandated the creation of a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and provides for its structure, the qualifications and term of office, the powers and duties, as well as the privileges of its officers.

However, there is a general observation that the SK under the present structure has lost its effectiveness in advancing the democratic ideals of service-oriented youth leadership. There are reports that the SK leaders have become so politicized, and susceptible to dishonest practices in handling public funds that are entrusted to them for the projects and programs intended for the welfare of their constituents. As a result, there is strong clamor from different sectors of the society, on the one hand, for the in-depth evaluation of the SK, and to institute reforms therein. On the other hand, there is equally strong clamor for its complete abolition.

I am one with a view that the current structure of the SK has failed to serve the envisioned purposes for our youth. Thus, before the scheduled synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October 28, 2013, I filed senate bill no. 1186, which later became R.A 10632 and which postponed the said elections to a date between October 28, 2014 and February 15, 2015, to be determined by the COMELEC.

Let me emphasize, however, that my respect and high hopes for our youth remain. Our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal once said: “the youth is the hope of the fatherland”. This message is timeless and will continue to reverberate in the coming generations. Just like my father when he created the Kabataang Barangay (KB) and placed it under the office of the president for his direct supervision, I deeply regard youth participation as an important component in nation-building.

The differing arguments had been clearly expounded during the various hearings of your committee on local government. While the committee recognized as valid the arguments of those espousing for the abolition of the SK, we believed that abolition should not be an option. I am confident that this sentiment is shared by most, if not all, of my colleagues in this august chamber.

Otherwise stated, it is the system of youth participation that clearly needs to be reformed. Youth participation in local governance and in nation-building, as guaranteed by the constitution, should always be upheld and not to be reduced to just minimal participation.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, allow me to present to you the salient features of the proposed reforms.

The age range of the Katipunan ng Kabataan is raised from the current 15-17 bracket, to 15-24. The officers of the Sangguniang Kabataan must be at least eighteen (18) years old but not more than twenty-four years (24) of age at the time of the election. These proposed amendments will primarily address the concern that our SK officers are below the age of majority, which makes them ineligible to sign contracts and/or incur obligations. This legal impediment has practically exposed our young leaders to pressure and interference from some unscrupulous barangay officials in the implementation of their programs and projects. If our SK officers are of legal age, then they are ready for and capable of full accountability.

This brings us to another important proposed amendment, which seeks to ensure their fiscal autonomy. It is thus proposed that the Sangguniang Barangay should appropriate the SK funds in lump sum, which shall be disbursed solely for youth development and empowerment purposes and shall be deposited in a government-owned bank in the name of the Sangguniang Kabataan concerned. The funds shall be allocated in the annual budget, in accordance with the adopted annual barangay youth development plan.

As to the structure of the organization, we will maintain the current structure of the SK in the barangay level with the election of a chairperson and seven (7) members. The chairperson shall automatically serve as an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Barangay. However, in the municipal, city and provincial levels, the federated SK president will no longer automatically serve as ex-officio member of the concerned local Sanggunian.

It is thus proposed that a local youth development council be created in every municipality, city and province, which shall be composed of not more than two (2) official representatives of the following classifications of duly organized and/or accredited youth and youth-serving organizations who are at least fifteen (15) but not more than twenty-four (24) years of age, namely:
A. Sangguniang Kabataan;
B. Student councils or sangguniang mag-aaral of public and private secondary schools;
C. Student councils of public and private tertiary schools;
D. Out-of-school youth;
E. Working youth, young entrepreneurs and young professional organizations;
F. Youth with specific needs organizations;
G. Faith-based youth organizations; and
H. Ideology-based youth organizations.

Within one (1) month from the conduct of the SK elections, in the case of municipalities and cities, and within forty-five (45) days in the case of provinces, and every year thereafter, the local government operations officer shall convene all the members of the council to elect its officers.

The duly proclaimed presidents of the youth development councils shall serve as ex-officio members of their respective local sanggunian.

This proposed set-up will ensure wide and multi-sectoral youth participation in local governance.

The Sangguniang Kabataan is also designed to train young Filipinos to become leaders, so it is imperative to devise a training program for the youth leaders. It is thus proposed that before any SK official or any member of the council will assume office, he/she must undergo the mandatory training program, which shall have two basic components: 1) re-orientation on patriotism, nationalism and values-enhancement towards nation-building; and 2) capability-building on leadership, program and project development and sustainability, financial management, accountability and transparency. A training fund with an initial amount of fifty million pesos (php 50,000,000.00) is established from available sources to be jointly managed by the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, even after the submission of this committee report for plenary consideration, I continued my consultations on the proposed amendments with the youth sectors in different parts of the country, as well as with the authors of the subject bills, Senator Bam Aquino and Senator JV Ejercito. Two important issues came out, and these can be further deliberated upon and can be the subject of committee amendments with the permission of this body. The first is raising the age ceiling for members of the Katipunan ng Kabataan from 24 to 30. This is to conform to the definition of “youth” in R.A 8044, or the act creating the National Youth Commission. It will also benefit the SK organization as the younger members will be guided by the experience of the older ones. Second, the SK federated president shall remain as ex-officio member of the sanggunian in rightful recognition of the mandate given to them by the Katipunan ng Kabataan.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I am hopeful that the proposed amendments to the Sangguniang Kabataan will usher our youth to a more productive and dynamic participation in governance that will train and guide them to a more mature role of public service. As Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, I am pleased and honored to present to you Committee Report no. 75 for the consideration of this august body.

Thank you.

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