Sen. Bongbong opts for SK elections under new SK law

says holding SK elections without reforms in place is “useless.”

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Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. expressed his agreement with colleagues in the Lower House who called for the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled this February 15, 2015 while waiting for a new SK reform law.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government, says both chambers are working overtime to put reforms in place and holding the SK elections without these reforms passed will render all efforts made by legislators useless.

“I am open to a possible postponement of SK election as long as it will be under an SK reform law. Because if we hold the elections as scheduled, we will be holding it under the same old SK system that I and the other senators are fighting to reform. So all these discussions and moves to reform the SK will be useless,” he said.

Bongbong strongly expressed his stand for SK reform, even stating that this is non-negotiable. Elections can wait, he says.

“I did not compromise at all on the SK reform. For me, this is non-negotiable. That is why my position is precisely, we can talk of any date of SK election as long as it will be under a new SK Reform Law.”

Tomorrow, the committee on Local government will conduct a hearing specifically on House Bill no. 5209 that seeks to defer anew the SK elections, which was earlier pushed to February 21 this year from its previous date of October 2013.

Bongbong says Congress has a very challenging task ahead, trying to reconcile eleven (11) versions of the SK reform bills. Giving Congress more time to study and reconcile all these versions would result to a better bill that would benefit the Filipino youth in the long run.

Besides, postponing the elections will allow the Comelec to make more adequate preparations. Bongbong authored Senate Bill 2401, which seeks reforms in: a) the age of SK officials; b) providing trainings to professionalize and make the elected SK members aware of the responsibilities they face and c) enforcing the anti- dynasty law down to the barangay level.

In separate interviews over radio this morning, Bongbong says he disagreed with earlier suggestions abolishing SK. Sectors who want the SK abolished cited alleged corruption, engagement in political partisanship and the rise of nepotism among youth leaders.

Bongbong opined that scrapping the SK movement altogether would deprive the youth the chance and opportunities to be heard and participate in nation-building.

“What we needed was to reform the flawed SK system by widening the age range of youth participation, providing them adequate training to professionalize their service and making sure that they serve not on the basis of bloodline or affinity but because of a dedication to serve,” Marcos stressed.

In the past, he said, the SK age range was 15 to 17, which is the age when the youth are busy with their studies and school activities, hence their absences from work. In the Senate version, the SK proposed age range is 18 to 24, giving them a more mature perspective on their roles and responsibilities.

Marcos also wanted to give the SK fiscal autonomy, while limiting the use of SK funds only to youth development and empowerment purposes only; creating in every local government unit a Local Youth Development Council composed of at most two representatives from SK and other accredited youth groups and providing a mandatory training program for youth leaders.

“It is urgent and important that we reform the SK as a platform for engaging the youth in the grassroots level, and where the youth will be honed to become better and more effective public servants in the future,” said Aquino, chairperson of the Senate committee on youth,

In tomorrow’s hearing, Marcos invited Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, to be represented by Undersecretary Austere Panadero; Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. of the Commission on Elections; Gov. Alfonso V. Umali of Mindoro Oriental, as national president of League of Provinces of the Philippines; Mayor Herbert Bautista of Quezon City, as national president of League of Cities of the Philippines; Mayor Leonardo M. Javier Jr. of Javier, Leyte, as national president of League of Municipalities of the Philippines; Edmund Abesamis, as national president of Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, and Gio Tingson, as chairman of National Youth Commission.

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