SK Not Abolished

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By Perci Cendaña

Youth Advocate

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


THIS is the weekly column of the National Youth Commission (NYC).

Created under the Youth in Nation-building Act (RA 8044), the NYC is an agency under the Office of the President that develops and creates policies and programs for youth participation and development that are cool. "Cool" in youth jargon does not only mean fashionable, it also means current, appropriate and relevant. The NYC aims to be the voice and advocate of the youth.

The YOUTH ADVOCATE will feature issues and concerns affecting the youth because as the Facebook relationship status says, "it’s complicated" to be young in this day and age.

***

The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) is a unique feature of Philippine democracy, a one of a kind youth institution not just in Asia but in the whole world. Even our neighbors in the Asean are looking at the SK as a model for youth involvement and participation. It was originally envisioned and designed to be the realization of the constitutional mandate to instill among the young the values of service and patriotism. The SK was also intended to be a breeding and training ground for the next generation of committed and conscientious community leaders and public servants.

In recent years, however, there were moves to abolish the SK in both houses of Congress. Pro-abolition forces cite a number a reasons for dissolving this youth institution. They say it has ceased to serve the purpose of developing a new generation of principled and skilled leaders; instead it has become an annex of traditional politics. They also assert that the SK has veered away from the intent of promoting patriotism and service because it has been entangled with issues of graft, corruption, and inefficiency.

But you don't throw the baby with the bath water. The NYC believes that abolition is tantamount to disenfranchising the youth and a betrayal of an important constitutional mandate. What is imperative is to restore the SK's integrity and credibility by instituting structural reforms to cure the gaps in and weaknesses of the institution.

R.A. 10632 otherwise known as "An Act to Postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan Elections" is the first step in the reform track. The NYC's push for the postponement of the SK polls was guided by the practical wisdom of doing it right from the beginning. It expected that by the time SK elections are held early next year, reforms have already been legislated by the Senate and Congress.

In the meantime, the SK funds this year will be managed by the Baranggay Council, the Committee on Women and Children specifically.

The Council is tasked under R.A. 10632 to craft a Barangay Youth Development Plan which will be the basis for the programs and budget.

The implementing rules of the postponement law also outlined a strict menu of programs for the youth like leadership and capacity building, health and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation, and employment and livelihood. This means that junkets and outings, welcome arcs and picket fences, payment for utilities of the Baranggay Hall, etc. cannot be charged to the youth fund.

More on the proposed SK reforms in next week's column.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 12, 2014.

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