The Great SK Debate: Do we really need the Sangguniang Kabataan?
Allegations of corruption by inefficient, ineffective, and non-performing Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials have caused mounting calls for its abolition from various sectors and officials, including no less than President Benigno Aquino, Jr. himself, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo. Ironically, the very author of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code (LGC) which created the SK in 1991, is also pushing for SK’s demise. Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, on his last term, filed a bill proposing its abolition. Former Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla filed a similar bill in 2004. But the SK National Federation (NF) and the SK Reform Coalition are not taking this sitting down, making a last-ditch effort to salvage what’s left of the youth organization. SKNF president Jane Censoria Cajes, for instance, has been doing the rounds of TV shows, defending SK. SK Reform Coalition convenor Marlon Cornelio also sought a dialogue with Sec. Robredo. Fortunately for the SK community, the dialogue resulted to a change in Robredo’s stand, from that of abolition to reform. During the meeting last Tuesday, Robredo and the SK Reform Coalition have agreed on the necessary reforms that should be undertaken. As of presstime, the barangay and SK elections in October will push through, but Cornelio says DILG hopes to have its proposal on reducing the number of SK officials from eight (one chairman and seven kagawad), to only one youth representative, approved in time for the elections. PIONEERING
The Philippines is so far, the only country in the world which has given its youth the opportunity to take a participative role in government through the SK. An offshoot of the Kabataang Barangay of the ‘70s, the SK is a governing body where youth, aged 15 to 18 years old, may register to vote and be voted in the SK. The SK chairman gets a salary while the seven councilors (kagawad) that form the council have no salaries but are required to serve voluntarily for three years. They approve resolutions of the Sanggunian and appropriate the money allotted to the council. Marinelle Formentera, SK City Federation president of Paranaque says the SK gets 10 percent of the budget of the barangay. “Pag malaki ang barangay malaki din ang budget ng SK. Tulad namin sa NCR, P2.9 million ang budget ng barangay namin, so 10 percent nun ang sa SK. Pero nakalaan naman ang parts ng budget for our programs, like 10 percent for green brigade, 10 percent for infrastructure, and so on,” explains Formentera, 19. PRONE TO CORRUPTION
Due to loopholes in the system, the SKNF is calling for reform. One major loophole, Cajes says, is the 15 to 18 age bracket for those who can vote and run as SK officials. The original age of those who can register and vote used to be 15 to 18 while candidates for the SK posts were from 18 to 21. She says for those who can run for SK posts, the COMELEC lowered the age bracket in 2004 from 18 to 21, to 15 to 18 years old. “We felt that this was a bad move. Masyadong bata yung mga SK officials, nasa high school pa sila at madaling maimpluwensiyahan ng pulitiko. Kadalasan nagagamit kami ng mga barangay captains at pulitiko kasi may boses kami sa council. We cannot sign contracts because we are minors, so it’s the barangay chairman who does it for us. Pag yung kapitan may gustong pabor, iniipit yung SK at hindi magbibigay ng budget. Kawawang SK walang magawa kundi pumayag na lang,” laments Cajes, 20. Both SKNF and Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino says electing only one youth representative in the barangay would make them prone to engage in corrupt and anomalous activities because of the absence of a check and balance mechanism provided by the kagawads. “It doesn’t solve anything. The single youth representative, who is now not accountable to a youth council, can be more easily seduced by corruption practices because...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document