Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, today, it is my honor, as Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, to sponsor Committee Report no. 97, containing House Bill no. 5209, or the proposed act postponing the Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the last Monday of October 2016.
Mr. President, last October 3, 2013, RA 10632 was signed into law. It mandates, specifically under Section 1 thereof, that the Sangguniang Kabataan elections, originally scheduled on 28 October 2013, shall be postponed “to a date to be determined by the commission on elections between 28 October 2014 to 23 February 2015.”
It will be recalled, Mr. President, that when this representation sponsored this proposal through Senate Bill no. 1186 and House Bill no. 2849 last September of 2013, I had emphasized the significant role of the youth in community affairs, policy-making and public governance. However, I had underscored the view of the committee that before conducting the SK elections the Sangguniang Kabataan must first be reformed and restructured in order to effectively represent the needs and concerns of the youth sector.
It was then the unanimous opinion of this august chamber to postpone the October 28, 2013 SK elections in order to give congress reasonable time to prepare the significant legislation that would institute meaningful, timely and viable reforms in the Sangguniang Kabataan.
Immediately after the passage of this law, and promptly responding to this resounding call, the senate, through your Committee on Local Government, exhaustively deliberated on senate bills 68 and 1090 authored by Senators JV Ejercito and Bam Aquino, respectively.
After conducting series of hearings and technical working group meetings, the Committee came up and issued Committee Report no. 75 that contains the proposed “Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014” which seeks to restructure the Sangguniang Kabataan and introduces substantial improvements.
Your Committee believes that this legislative initiative will address the misgivings and criticisms against the Sangguniang Kabataan, ang its passage will establish, among others, a youth council system empowered by a much stronger, relevant and principled youth leadership.
Your Committee on Local Government was determined to comply with the time table set forth under RA 10632 to hold SK elections under a reformed organization. Hence, focused efforts were made by your committee to make sure that the SK reform bill is drafted, reported out, and subsequently thoroughly deliberated upon by this august chamber.
However, despite these intense preparations, it is unfortunate that this legislative measure cannot be successfully completed within the mandated deadline. We have been informed likewise, by the house of representatives that the deliberations on its version of the SK reform bills have yet to start at the committee level.
The setback in the timely completion of the proposed SK reform act before the SK elections is not meant to undermine the valuable role of the youth in nation-building. In fact, earnest efforts are genuinely exerted in order to put in place the vital improvements in the youth organization through legislation, so that in the end, the next scheduled elections for SK officers will be under a more organized, upright, committed and informed assembly of young leaders.
Rest assured, Mr. President that this representation is in close coordination with our counterparts in the house of representatives. We have firmly committed to conclude all committee and plenary deliberations, and introduce appropriate amendments to the SK reform bills before congress goes into sine die adjournment this coming June.
For the meantime, however, there is a crucial need to postpone the February SK elections in order to save the much needed funds of the government in preparing for this electoral exercise.
In view of the foregoing, your Committee on Local Government respectfully recommends that this august body approve the proposal contained in house bill 5209 postponing the Sangguniang Kabataan elections scheduled by the Commission on Elections on 21 February 2015 by virtue of COMELEC Resolution 9904, to the last Monday of october 2016.
The youth of this country deserves our attention. Let us prepare a better future for them by laying a strong pillar of democratic, ethical, transparent and accountable youth governance.
Thank you, Mr. President.