Sangguniang Kabataan 2012 Island Congress for Mindanao

2 June 2012

Speech-SK-2012-island-congressSpeech of Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Sangguniang Kabataan 2012 Island Congress for Mindanao
Grand Regal Hotel, Davao City
2 June 2012

First of all, let me express my heartfelt gratitude for extending your invitation to me, as among the resource speakers of this significant occasion of the Sangguniang Kabataan National Federation: the 2012 Island Congress of the Sangguniang Kabataan Mindanao. I am delighted to be with you, dear delegates. I fondly and proudly say that this youth council is the brainchild of my father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos and that my sister Imee was once your chairperson. This gathering of young political leaders is a fitting opportunity amid the rapid flow of events in the national scene.

You are well aware of course that the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, has already rendered a decision on the complaint filed against our Chief Justice Renato Corona. I voted for acquittal. This was my stand, for I was convinced that the arguments presented on the alleged offenses of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust were not sufficient to overcome Mr. Corona’s presumed innocence. The independence and integrity of the judiciary must be upheld. However, the impeachment court has given its verdict: a word that should be given credence. Young leaders, I emphasize this because in the coming months, our country will again shift the attention to the trial of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Once again, I strongly point out the paramount role of due process in respect to the rights of the accused. The Bill of Rights, my young friends, stands square over all the powers of the government. On the other hand, political parties are already gearing up for the 2013 National and Local elections.

Here in Mindanao, the prevailing issue is peace. And I note that our government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and other concerned individuals and organizations agree on a common goal—that is to maintain the territorial integrity of your region, and to be able to live in an environment of amity.

Dear delegates, I mention these matters to impress upon you a sense of awareness for both these national issues, in as much as you are closely attached with the issues in your respective municipalities and towns. You have the responsibility to know and comprehend these concerns being the representatives of the youth in the bureaucracy. It is in this light that you have to actively participate in the discourse of political matters so that you can help formulate government policies for the betterment of not only the youth, but the Philippines as well.

As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, I am intently interested in the ongoing debate regarding the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan. Allow me to refresh your history, my young friends. Before the title Sangguniang Kabataan was used, there was Kabataang Barangay of the ‘70s. The KB, as it was called, was an effort to harness the talents and potentials of thell youth, by giving them a definite role in the community. Hence, the present SK, in consonance with the then KB, is the organizational expression of the state policy to give the youth the opportunity to take part in nation-building. It is in this light that I clearly continue to push for the reform of the Sangguniang Kabataan.

Let me mention the views of those who call to abolish this pivotal organization. First, these proponents say that the welfare of the Filipino youth can still be advanced and protected even without a youth council such as the SK. They also maintain that government programs related to the improvement of our country’s educational system will be sufficient to ensure a better future for the youth. They say that the SK is not the only structure that represents your sector. Secondly, the proponents contend that the SK has not been effective; that it is useless. The government they say, has been giving it much resources over the years but there has been no reciprocal results of advancement until now. A colossal waste of money is what they call it, and thus, should be done away with to save government funds. Third, these proponents assert that your group is a breeding ground of corruption, which teaches young people to learn about this stereotypical aspect of politics, such as corruption through commissions on contracts and projects. That the SK does more harm than good, for it exposes these young adults to dirty politics instead of harnessing their capacities. Lastly, these proponents insist that the SK does not help young people in their studies. They say one cannot synergize school and a political career and that for you, there is a greater need for educational development, rather than be embroiled in the political arena.

Ladies and gentlemen of this congress, as you may well be aware, the Department of Interior and Local Government is among those who have voiced the abolition of the SK. The DILG is apparently convinced that you have failed to be functional and efficient in your delivery of public service, in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Code. The DILG’s opinions may constitute compelling reasons but I stress that these grounds cannot be resolved by abolishing the SK.

First of all, youth participation is enshrined in Section 13, Article II of our Constitution, to wit, “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.” Congress created the Sangguniang Kabataan in 1991 precisely to introduce our young leaders to government service at the local, provincial, and national levels. Abolishing the SK will deprive the youth the opportunity to participate in nation-building—an endeavour which my father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, espoused.

The SK has been established to train the youth to become effective and able leaders of our society. SK officers are expected to serve as the voice of the youth in their respective communities, while projects initiated by them can actually enhance their skills. I say therefore that the SK is still a viable vehicle for the participation of the youth in national affairs, despite its imperfection. It should be strengthened rather than be let to waste.

My fellow partners in politics, the proposed amendments to certain provisions of the Local Government Code are worth considering. We begin with the increase in the age bracket of the Katipunan ng Kabataan from 15 to 17 years old to 15 to 21 years old, while for the Sangguninag Kabataan officials to 18-21 years old. This reform would grant SK officials legal capacity to perform acts, as they would have then reached discernment.

I also support the proposal to grant the SK fiscal autonomy like those granted to local government units so that youth councils will not be beholden to the culture of patronage and political favors, not to be used as a pawn by barangay elders and mayors in partisan activities. Fiscal autonomy would entail remedial legislation that would grant SKs their share in the Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA.

To further reinforce the SK, more relevant trainings for officials on their functions and responsibilities should be increased and improved. This can be done in coordination with various government agencies, LGUs, and NGOs. We must strive to depoliticize the SK and try to insulate from the ills of corruption and patronage.

Again, let me reiterate my point. The Katipunan ng Kabataan and the Sangguniang Kabataan in all levels must be strengthened rather than be abolished.

We can retain the title of “SK” or change its name but it must continue to co-exist with other elective positions to give you, dear young people, the opportunity to aid us in the national government in attaining the goal of progress and stability.

It was our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal who once said, “It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great deal. It is a stone wasted in the field without becoming a part of an edifice.” The SK, I believe, is a stone that we can use to build a stalwart edifice, the edifice of the Filipino nation—one that enjoys political stability, sustained economic growth, and social harmony. Indeed, it is true that “the foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” However, beyond the confines of a formal education system is the training ground for you to become responsible citizens and agents of change through the SK.

In closing, it is said that we cannot always build the future for our youth but we can build the youth for the future.

While I fully advocate the SK as an avenue of youth involvement in our bureaucracy, I must also say that we, in the national government, can only do so much. It is you who must prove worthy of your chance to take part in nation-building through the Sangguniang Kabataan. Convince us and the rest of the Filipino people that you are really the voice of the youth.

Daghang salamat sa kaninyong tanan! Good day.