DAVAO City councilors have expressed mixed reactions on the call to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council).

Floor leader Emmanuel Galicia admitted that the opposition against the SK has been going on for years.

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Galicia also agreed that SK is "expensive for the government."

"Another concern is: keeping the SK is expensive for the government. When an SK sits in the council, he or she receives a salary and a budget the same as that of an elected city councilor." Galicia said.

Meanwhile, SK president Halila Sudagar expressed her disagreement to the abolishment of SK.

"As an SK myself, I felt bad. I hope they know what they are doing. Contrary to what others claim the SK is the venue to develop mature, responsible, law abiding and environmentally conscious potential leaders of our society," Sudagar said in a text message.

Councilor Leah Librado said: "I am not in favor of the abolition. Issues concerning the SK are not solved by abolishing the same. It is still or remains a venue to develop youth leadership. I think reforms should be introduced instead of abolishing it."

Former SK president and incumbent Councilor April Marie Dayap shared Sudagar's sentiments.

City Councilor Pilar Braga said there are advantages and disadvantages on having the SK.

"Some say it's early for the youth to be "politicized" especially when they are used by unscrupulous politicians and that they should concentrate on their schooling first. Maybe an SK chairman or representative to the barangay and the city council would be okay," Braga said.

Councilor Joanne Bonguyan said the best people to understand the concerns of the youth would be them.

"I do not agree in not giving them the chance to choose for their representative. However, I feel that the qualification of their representative should be amended. The age bracket of 15 to 17 years old is too young, their parents would end up being the ones making the decision, it would be useless as the decisions won't be the voice of the youth. The representative should be in a mature age, 18 to 21 years old," Bonguyan said.

According to the Local Government Code under the 1987 Constitution, there shall be in every village a youth council composed of a chairman, seven members, a secretary, and a treasurer.

Members must be citizens of the Philippines actually residing in the village for at least six months, who are 15 but not more than twenty-one years of age, and who are duly registered in the list of the SK or in the official village list in the custody of the village secretary. A SK official who, during his term of office, shall have passed the age of 21 shall be allowed to serve the remaining portion of the term for which he was elected.

Under Section 434, Privileges of youth council officials; the SK chairman shall have the same privileges enjoyed by other village council officials under this Code subject to such requirements and limitations provided.

"During their incumbency, SK officials shall be exempt from payment of tuition and matriculation fees while enrolled in the public tertiary schools, including state colleges, and universities. The National Government shall reimburse said college or university the amount of the tuition and matriculation fees.

The SK has the powers and functions to:

* Promulgate resolution necessary to carry out the objectives of the youth in the village in accordance with the applicable provisions of this Code;

* Initiate programs designed to enhance the social, political, economic, cultural, intellectual, moral, spiritual, and physical development of the members;

* Hold fund-raising activities, the proceeds of which shall be tax-exempt and shall accrue to the general fund of the youth council: Provided, however, that in the appropriation thereof, the specific purpose for which such activity has been held shall be first satisfied;

* Create such bodies or committees as it may deem necessary to effectively carry out its programs and activities;

* Submit annual and end-of-term reports to the village council on their projects and activities for the survival and development of the youth in the village;

* Consult and coordinate with all youth organizations in the village for policy formulation and program implementation;

* Coordinate with the appropriate national agency for the implementation of youth development projects and programs at the national level; and

* Exercise such other powers and perform such other duties and functions as the village council may determine or delegate, and or as may be prescribed by law or ordinance. (JCZ)