Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. pushes for SK reforms as he delivers his sponsorship speech on the SK Reform Bill, or SB 2401 under Committee Report No. 75. Marcos said the constitution required the state to recognize the vital role of the youth in nation-building and to promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. He also said the constitution tasks the government to inculcate youth patriotism and nationalism and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.
Despite a pervasive skepticism on the effectiveness of SK and common perception that they are being used by politicians for their own agenda, still, Sen.Bongbong said, “I deeply regard youth participation as an important component in nation-building.”
Some of the amedments in his proposal includes raising the age ceiling for the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan (the successor of the Sangguniang Kabataan) from the current 15- to- 17 to 15-to-30 so that the younger members would be guided by the experience of the older ones. He also said the new ceiling conforms with the definition of youth under Republic Act 8044, creating the National Youth Commission.
He said the age range of officers of the Sangguniang Kabataan is 15 to 17 at the time of election and is below the age range of majority.
The senator said raising the age ceiling would make the youth eligible to sign contracts and 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 they are of legal age, then they are ready for and capable of full accountability,” he stressed.
He also called for a mandatory training program for youth leaders prior to their assuming office to a) re-orient them on patriotism, nationalism and values-enhancement towards nation-building and b) build their capabilities in leadership, program and project development and sustainability, financial management, accountability and transparency. A training fund of P50 million would be established from available resources to be jointly managed by the National Youth Commission and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
He said he is introducing such amendments to the law creating the SK because he firmly believes in this constitutional mandate on youth development and participation in national affairs even as he emphasized that national hero Dr. Jose Rizal said “the youth is the hope of the fatherland.”
When the clamor to abolish SK became so loud last year, Marcos proposed a bill (which became R.A. no. 10632) postponing the SK elections from October 28, 2013 to anytime between October 28, 2014 and February 15, 2015 to give time for reviewing reforms in the system. The Commission on Elections will determine the actual date of elections.
To ensure their fiscal autonomy, he proposed that the Sangguniang Barangay should appropriate the SK funds in lumpsum 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 SK concerned. The funds shall be allocated in the annual budget in accordance with the adopted annual barangay youth development plan.
The structure in the barangay level will be maintained with one chairperson and seven members. The chairman automatically serves as ex officio member of the Sangguniang Barangay. But in the municipal, city and provincial levels, the federated SK president will remain ex-officio member of the local sanggunian in rightful recognition of the mandate given to them by the Katipunan ng Kabataan.
The senator, however, proposed the creation of a local youth development council in every municipality, city and province, composed of not more than two official representatives from duly-organized and/or accredited youth and youth-serving organizations at least 15 years of age but not more than 24, namely: SK, student councils in public and private secondary, tertiary schools; out of school youth, working youth, young entrepreneurs and young professional organizations; youth with specific needs organizations; faith-based youth organizations and ideology-based youth organizations.
The local government operations officer must convene the members of the council to elect its officers a month after an SK election in municipalities and cities and 45 days in the case of provinces and every year thereafter.
The senator said even after he submitted his committee report to the plenary, he continued his consultations on the proposed amendments with the youth sectors in different parts of the country and with the authors of Senate Bills 68 and 1090 under the Committee Report No. 75 namely Senators Bam Aquino and JV Ejercito.