By Angie M. Rosales | The Daily Tribune
Lawmakers are eyeing of clipping the powers of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders in handling government funds under the Senate bill instituting reforms in the existing law governing the election for youth council officials.
In the initial public hearing conducted by the Senate committee on local government chaired by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the matter of SK leaders’ involvement in the disposition of public funds is seen to only induce them to corrupt practices.
“Since the SK leaders have a vote on matters that could involve huge amounts of public funds, they are vulnerable to influence of corrupt politicians or unscrupulous contractors,” Marcos said after noting in the hearing that for this year alone, the SK’s share in the total Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) would reach as much as P6.1 billion, covering 42,000 barangays.
Provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991 calls for a 10 percent share of the IRA for the youth council sector.
Besides the issues on the SK being perceived merely as a supposed breeding ground for political dynasty, the youth leaders’ exposure to corruption and the practice of traditional politicians have prompted a number of lawmakers to seek some radical changes in the current system as the scheduled elections of new leaders had been put off for the meantime.
The two Houses of Congress recently ratified a bill moving the conduct of SK polls to a date between Oct. 28 next year to Feb. 23, 2015.
Marcos, one of the authors of the bill postponing the SK polls vowed toto craft an SK reform measure within a year.
Another suggestion, coming from Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, former chair of the Kabataang Barangay — the precursor of SK — is to restore the spirit of volunteerism to the SK and to make it a training ground for the youth to be responsible leaders and citizens of our country.
The committee is also studying proposals to peg the age of SK members to either 18-25, 15-25, 18-30 or 15-30 instead of the current 15-17.
With the major areas for SK reforms already discussed in the first hearing, Marcos said the committee will likely conduct one more hearing and then refer the findings to a technical working group to incorporate the findings and proposals into the SK reform measure.