April 13, 2008
ABOLITION OF SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN SOUGHT
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today proposed the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan in view of the general observation that it has lost its usefulness as a mechanism for getting the youth involved in community development.
Pimentel said the prevailing sentiment in local communities is that the SK officials have neglected their duties because they are preoccupied with other things although they continue to receive remuneration.
Under Senate Bill 2155 he just filed, the SK will be dissolved but the youth will continue to be represented in the sangguniang bayan, sangguniang panlunsod and sangguniang panlalawigan.
The youth representatives will be elected, like other local government officials, during the regular local elections held every three years.
"The youth representatives in the local councils shall be the voice of the young people in the policy-making bodies of the local government. They will ensure the youth's vital participation in public and civic affairs in their respective communities," Pimentel said.
Senate Bill 2155 provides that "in addition to the other qualifications required of candidates to the sanggunian (council), no person shall be elected as the youth representative in every sanggunian unless he is a Filipino citizen, a resident of the barangay for at least one year and he is not more than 18 years of age at the time of his filing of certificate of candidacy or election."
It also provides that SK officers who were duly elected in the October, 2007 barangay ad SK synchronized election shall continue to hold office for the duration of the term to which they were elected.
There was a proposal from some legislators and local government leaders to make the youth representative in the sanggunian an appointive position and to authorize the mayor or governor to appoint such official.
Pimentel said he did not agree with the proposal because he believes that the youth of the local communities should decide on who should represent them in the sanggunian in keeping with the democratic system. Besides, he said the tendency of the mayor or governor is to make partisan choices. He also observed that appointive officials to any legislative body tend to lose their independence and be beholden to the appointing authority.
The SK was created under the Local Government Code of 1991, replacing the Kabataang Barangay which was established through a Marcos decree during the martial law era.
Like the KB, the SK was envisioned to be a training ground for youth leaders and a layer of government that will attend to the needs and problems of the youth and harness them in community development activities.
Explaining why the continued existence of the SK has become untenable, Pimentel said the organization has exposed the youth leaders to situations that make them susceptible to dishonest or corrupt practices specially in handling funds that are entrusted to them for projects and activities that will enhance the welfare of their constituents.
Pimentel said one of the strongest argument for scrapping the SK is that more often than not, SK chairmen and officials are not found in their barangay because they have to stay elsewhere to pursue their college education.
What is worse, he said, is when the absentee SK officials continue to receive government allowances even if they are unable to discharge their duties and deliver services that are expected of them.
The bill on the abolition of the SK was crafted by Pimentel after a series of consultations with local government officials, election authorities, academic experts in the field of local governance and leaders of the youth and other sectors concerned.
In some provinces and cities, the governors or mayors whose children or other relatives are the SK chairmen in their localities were the ones who were very vocal in saying that the SK has outlived its usefulness and should be abolished.
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