House panel approves bill postponing SK polls to 2016-A A +A
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
(UPDATED) The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms on Tuesday voted 11-1 to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections until the last Monday of October 2016.
Out of the members present, only Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon, who was deputized by Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, voted against the proposal.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. sought the help of the House panel to ask a certification from President Benigno Aquino III to ensure that Congress will be able to pass the law postponing the SK elections before the first week of October.
"The earlier you can pass the postponement bill, the better…Sana kausapin si Presidente, both houses (of Congress) will have to act immediately," Brillantes said.
House panel chairman and Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro said "somebody" is already working on the certification from President Benigno Aquino III.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, a close ally of the President, earlier said that the House of Representatives is open to the proposal of Comelec chairman Brillantes to postpone the SK elections indefinitely.
With a vote of 8-1, however, members of the committee agreed to hold the next SK polls to October 2016.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate passed on second reading Senate Bill 1186 seeking to move the SK elections to next year. The bill will soon be endorsed for third and final reading.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos, the bill's author, said reforms must be in place, citing reports that SK leaders have become so politicized and susceptible to dishonest practices in handling public funds intended for the welfare of their constituents.
Lawmakers also junked the idea of a holdover capacity for the incumbent members of the SK council. This position is consistent with that of Comelec that the three-year period will test whether the barangay can function without the SK council.
"Yung batas should be, kung mawawalan ng SK at wala ng representation, the youngest among the barangay sanggunian will represent the youth," Brillantes proposed.
During the House panel hearing, representatives of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Youth Commission (NYC) and the SK National Federation were unanimous in saying that Congress should reform the youth council.
"For abolition or for reform, iisa ang consensus na kailangan na palitan ang status quo at pagbabago sa institution ng SK...(We should postpone polls) rather than subject a new batch to a system that really needs a major overhaul," NYC chairman Leon Flores said.
Austere Panadero, undersecretary for local government, noted that regional consultations suggest that while youth engagement and leadership is essential in governance and nation building, the current SK system is ineffective.
"It would be prudent to postpone the SK to give time legislators what is best for the youth and the strategic role they can play," Panadero said.
"We would like to admit that the present system has indeed lapses and we could address this by introducing reforms to the system," Augusto Legaspi, one of the regional directors of the SK National Federation, added.
The House panel seeks to submit its committee report on the deferment of SK polls Wednesday. (Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)