Reforming SK

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014


By Perci Cendaña
Youth Advocate

THE Cordillera Youth Leaders (CYL), a network of graduates of the Youth Leadership Summits (YLS) organized by the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Civil Military Operations Group (CMOG), celebrated their third anniversary last weekend. The NYC is witness to how committed and passionate these young leaders are as they conduct socio-civic activities in their respective communities in the region and partner with government agencies.

This is an amazingly tightly-knit youth group. During their anniversary program at the Philippine Information Agency Baguio office, CYL members who are based in other parts of the country and even those who work abroad sent their video messages telling stories of how being part of CYL changed their lives. Congratulations to the new set of officers led by their president, University of Baguio dentistry student, Joshua Rey Bantic.

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The NYC moved for the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to give time to our lawmakers to legislate the long overdue reforms in this important youth institution. According to the SK Postponement Law (R.A.10632), the next elections should take place between October 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015. This is the deadline and the NYC is counting on our legislators to pass the reform law before the year ends in time for the elections. The NYC's reform proposals are geared at rectifying structural gaps and flaws, and institutionalizing transparency and good governance.

On top of the reform agenda is amending the age provision. Currently, the SK voters and officials are from 15 to 17 years old. Other than the very limited age coverage, the elected officials are not yet of legal age. This renders them vulnerable to undue influence of and control by the elders in the community which betrays institutional independence and integrity. The proposed amendment is to expand the age coverage of voters to 15 to 24 years old with the SK Chairperson being at least 18 years old.

It is also proposed that the SK be given autonomy in the management and administration of their funds and programs. This will reduce the interference of Barangay officials in the affairs of the SK. But with autonomy comes direct accountability, the officials can be held liable for mismanagement and malversation.

To ensure transparency, the SK will be required to seek the approval of the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan (KK) or the general assembly of the youth in the community for their annual plan and budget. They will also be required to present an annual report to the assembly. Failure to convene the KK shall be penalized.

Among the many reform proposals, the boldest and one of the most important is the inclusion of an anti-political dynasty provision. If this is passed, this will be the first enabling law of the prohibition of political dynasties mandated by the Constitution. It will be a symbolic and monumental step towards political modernity.

The reform law is a much needed shoot in the arm to revitalize the SK as a viable force for youth development, service and participation.

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Calling all youth organizations, if you have a cool project that has an awesome impact on your community or school, join the Search for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO12). Log on to www.tayoawards.net.

More on TAYO in next week's column.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 19, 2014.

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