Sangguniang Kabataan ("youth council" in English), commonly known as SK, is a council for youth in each barangay in the Philippines. It was put "on hold", but not quite abolished, prior to the 2013 barangay elections. In January 2016, the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law was signed into law which made some significant changes to the SK and schedules new elections for October 2016.
The SK Chairman leads the Sangguniang Kabataan. A Local Youth Development Council (LYDC) composed of representatives of different local youth groups supports the SK and its programs.
The Sangguniang Kabataan is the successor of the KB or the Kabataang Barangay (Village Youth) which was abolished by the Local Government Code of 1991. The author, Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. abolished KB because of allegations that this organization faced.
Function and structure
The Kagawads, or councilors, approve resolutions and appropriate money allotted to the council. The Chairman automatically sits on the barangay council as an ex officio member and is automatically chairman of the Committee on Youth and Sports, one of the standing committees of the barangay council.
The council represents youth who have resided in their barangay for at least six months and registered to vote. It leads the local youth programs.
Members of the SK receive payment for serving on the council. Under the Local Government Code, only the SK Chairman receives money but in some areas the practice was that the chairman shares his payment with other members of the SK council. In one barangay, each SK member received 500 pesos per month from the chairman.
Local Youth Development Council
Under the 2016 reform, a new Local Youth Development Council was formed to support the SK programs and to be composed of representatives from different youth organizations in the community including student councils, church and youth faith groups, youth-serving organizations, and community-based youth groups. "The LYDC aims to harmonize, broaden and strengthen all programs and initiatives of the local government and non-governmental organizations for the youth sector," said Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth and co-author of the reform act.
Every Sangguniang Kabataan is part of a municipal or city SK association, which are in turn members of a provincial SK association. A barangay's SK Chairman represents the barangay in the municipal or city association. The presidents of the city and municipal federation are, in turn, members of the provincial or metropolitan associations, all of which have their own elected president as well. The presidents of independent cities' and provinces' associations compose the membership in the national association and elect the national president who automatically sits on the National Youth Commission.
See also: Katipunan ng Kabataan
The SK developed out of the Kabataang Barangay, established during martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos established the KB in 1975 to give youth a chance to be involved in community affairs and to provide the government means to inform youth of the government's development efforts. His daughter Imee Marcos was chairman.
Controversy surrounded the KB, including the enforcement of authoritarian rule among youth, opposition of militant youth activity, and the KB's failure to develop youth as a responsive collective. Since then, the KB grew less popular among youth and instead student activism became the trend in youth participation in the country. In June 1986, a study[by whom?] was conducted on the KB and came up with the following recommendations: abolish the KB; create a National Youth Commission (NYC); establish a National Youth Assembly; and set up genuine youth representation in government. Youth consultations were held[by whom?], and the KB was abolished by the government. However, then-president Corazon Aquino have already established the Presidential Council for Youth Affairs (PCYA) instead of NYC, which was successful in coordinating with the youth federations to develop future national leaders, but lacked the powers envisioned[by whom?] for the NYC because PCYA merely coordinated with youth groups. A proposal was then crafted by the Congress youth representatives and PCYA's technical committee in 1989 to 1990.
The proposal that created the Katipunan ng Kabataan (KK) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) was incorporated into the 1991 Local Government Code (known as Local Autonomy Law or Republic Act 7160). It formally abolished the KB and created the KK and SK. The KK includes all Filipino citizens, age 15 to 18 years, residing in each barangay for at least six months and are registered in the official barangay list. The SK is the governing body of the KK, a set of youth leaders elected by the KK members to represent them and deliver youth-focused services in the barangay.
The age range of the youth eligible for the KK and SK was reduced to 15 to below 18 due to the change in Republic Act 9164 in 2002.
In April 2010, Jomarie Cajes, SK National Federation President, was charged before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas in Cebu City for lack of transparency in her financial dealings and for flaunting her wealth. However, Cajes said it was a black propaganda orchestrated by their political enemies. During the SK National Congress 2010 held on July 28–30, 2010 in Panglao, Bohol, the participants urged Cajes to present the financial statements. The local newspapers in Bohol reported that the SK members claimed they already demanded for the financial report which Cajes failed to present. These alleged unaccounted-for funds include PhP10 million provided in 2008 by the presidential fund, PhP10 million given in 2009 by DENR, financial statement (FS) of 2008 regarding congress in Cebu, FS of 2009 congress held in Subic Bay, and FS of National Convention and launching of Sama-sama Para sa Kalikasan held in Bohol. The participants also insisted that Cajes should likewise render her report on the donations coming from the Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Department of National Defense and other private donors such as The Bar.
Sangguniang Kabataan reform
SKs developed a poor reputation. One youth advocate said he was dissuaded from running for an SK because "Aside from the lack of concrete legislative and youth development programs, I have heard of certain issues raised against the SK like corruption, nepotism, and recurring programs focusing on sports festivals and pageantry only." A 2007 study by UNICEF and the Department of Interior and Local Government said, “The SK’s performance for the past ten years has been generally weak. This is especially true in terms of coming up with legislations, promoting the development of young people, submitting reports and holding consultations with their constituents.”
Because of concerns that the SK is a "breeding ground for political dynasty and exposing the youth to corruption and the practice of traditional politicians" known colloquially as trapos, Republic Act No. 10632 was enacted in 2013 to (a) postpone the scheduled October 2013 SK elections until some time between October 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015 and (b) leave vacant all the SK positions until new officers are elected. The bill explicitly prohibits the appointing of officials to fill the vacant positions. Sen. Francis Escudero said the vacancies would technically abolish the SK. During this time, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued regulations on how the barangays are to use the 10% of Internal Revenue Allotment set aside for SK activities and mandating the creation in each barangay a "Task Force on Youth Development". In the place of SKs, ad hoc youth committees were formed.
In January 2015, as the February 23, 2015, deadline approached for the date of the postponed elections, the Philippine House of Representatives unanimously passed a reform bill. Among the reforms are the raising of the age of SK officials from between 15 and 17 years old to between 18 and 21; the raising of the age of voters from between 15 and 17 to between 15 and 21; an anti-dynasty provision that forbids candidates from having a relative in public office that is within the second degree of affinity; and provisions to increase SKs' fiscal autonomy. Immediately after passing the reform bill, the Philippine House passed a bill further postponing the SK elections from February 2015 to October 2016 to be held at the same time as the barangay elections of 2016. In March 2015, a law postponing the elections to 2016 was signed by President Aquino.
On January 15, 2016, the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law (Republic Act No. 10742) was signed into law which made some significant changes to the SK. It changed the age of the council from 15 to 17 years old to 18 to 24 years old and it forbids individuals from seeking a youth council appointment who are closer than the second degree of consanguinity (have the same grandparents) from any elected or appointed official in the same area. It is the first Philippine law with an anti-political dynasty restriction for elected positions, as permitted by the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The reform also created a Local Youth Development Council to support the SK programs composed of representatives from different youth organizations in the community including student councils, church and youth faith groups, youth-serving organizations, and community-based youth groups.
Since 1992, there have been three simultaneous nationwide SK elections held in the Philippines which each term lasting from three to five years due to amendment of the regular 3-year term of the council.
Except in 1992 and 1996 elections, Sangguniang Kabataan elections have been synchronized with the Barangay election starting in 2002, and in 2007. The term limit for Sangguniang Kabataan officials is usually three years but since the first election, there have been extension of terms ranging from one to two years more in office.
- Philippine Sangguniang Kabataan election, 1992 on December 4, 1992
- Philippine Sangguniang Kabataan election, 1996 on May 6, 1996
- Philippine barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, 2002 on July 15, 2002
- Philippine barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, 2007 on October 29, 2007
- Philippine barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, 2010 on October 25, 2010
- Elections scheduled for October 28, 2013 were postponed and eventually canceled.
- Philippine barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, 2016 to be held in October 2016
- ^ abcdCatajan, Maria Elena (March 24, 2014). "NYC: Use SK funds right". SunStar Baguio. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- ^ abcGOLEZ, PRINCE (January 20, 2016). "Aquino signs SK reform bill". Panay News. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
- ^ abcdeMusico, Jelly F.; Reyes, Ernie (January 20, 2016). "Newly signed SK Reform Law bars gov't officials' relatives from running". MSN.com. Philippines News Agency and InterAksyon.com. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
- ^ abcdeLopez, Melissa Luz (Oct 30, 2013). "Sudden timeout for SK leaders". VERA Files on. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- ^"The Bohol Standard Online Edition". Theboholstandard.com. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- ^"The Official Website of The Bohol Chronicle". Boholchronicle.com. 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- ^"Bohol Sunday Post". Discoverbohol.com. 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- ^admin on 01 August 2010 (2010-08-01). "SK national pres in hot seat anew". Bohol Times Online. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- ^ abLadia, Charles (Sep 27, 2014). "Why the Sangguniang Kabataan needs an overhaul". Rapper. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- ^“The Impact of Youth Participation in the Local Government Process: The Sangguniang Kabataan Experience" quoted in Charles Ladia's Rappler article. See citation above.
- ^"SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN". pasay.gov.ph City of Pasay.
- ^"Senate ratifies measure postponing SK elections". The Freeman. The Philippine Star. September 25, 2013.
- ^ abcdMendez, Christina (25 September 2013). "SK polls postponed; Congress says no holdovers". Philippine Star. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- ^ ab"Republic Act No. 10632". Official Gazette. Republic of the Philippines. October 3, 2013.
- ^Monzon, Alden M. (January 23, 2015). "Senate approves bill to postpone anew Sangguniang Kabataan polls". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- ^ abcCayabyab, Marc Jayson (January 28, 2015). "House panel OKs SK reform bill". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
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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.
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 he is now alone; and most likely he/she could still belong to a dynasty. Since the youth representative will be voted at large by barangay residents, we will force that kid to adopt the campaign tactics of adults in order to garner enough votes to win in the election,” Rep. Palatino says.
On the allegation that SKs are doing nothing but hold sports activities, Cajes says that is because sports is part of their mandate.
Then there is the issue on the SK representatives neglecting their studies.
“I believe that all SK officials are mostly academic achievers. When they run in the SK they know the responsibilities that go with it. Usually, we sacrifice our studies to be able to serve our constituents. ‘Yung school andiyan lang yan. Hindi kami iiwan. Pero yung SK tatlong taon lang kami magsasakripisyo para matulungan ang kapwa naming kabataan,” says Cajes, a senior European Studies student at the Ateneo de Manila University. She has taken a leave of absence from AdMU to concentrate on her task as SKNF president, but is taking courses at the UP Open University.
Despite the change of heart of President Aquino and Sec. Robredo on the issue, former Sen. Pimentel is still firm in his position.
“While I was in the Senate I received hundreds of requests complaining about the SK, na walang silbi, walang concrete (project, law) silang nagawa. Most of them are even studying far from their barangays, so in effect they can no longer do their job because they have to be in school most of the time,” reveals Pimentel who is in favor of only one youth representative.
SK IS A UNIQUE SYSTEM
The SKNF strongly deny this, stating that many SKs are actually implementing projects that benefit both the youth and adults.
For instance, Formentera has authored an ordinance in her barangay, allocating P500,000 for an educational assistance program. The program provides P1,200 weekly allowance for poor students. More than 40 bystanders, meanwhile, have graduated from the Alternative Learning System program for out-of-school youth.
In the SKNF, Cajes says they give P100,000 to 20 pilot provinces that implement environmental projects.
“There is an SK who rehabilitated their river. In Lucena, the SK bought a multi-cab to use for collecting garbage. In Cagayan de Oro, they regularly hold debates and dialogues during the Youth Week. In Paranaque, they planted mangroves in the river. In my province in Bohol, 10 day care centers were built by youth groups of the Volunteers Club through our funds. We also provide health and medical assistance to both young and old people.”
In 2007, a study was commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund and DILGILGILG to determine SK’s impact in the local government process. The study, made by researchers of the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies Program on Psychosocial Trauma revealed that “abolishing the SK will not serve the best interest of children and young people nor will it shield them from the negative influences of politics and politicians. It will only destroy a unique system and a mechanism that has great potential for youth participation in governance and community service.”
Among the reforms proposed by the SK Reform Coalition and Akbayan Youth to Sec. Robredo are the need to increase the age bracket of the youth who can vote and be elected from 15-18 to 15-25; the election of a youth representative who will serve as a councilor in the barangay council, from ex-officio to regular membership; the creation of a youth development council composed of youth organizations in the barangay to serve as civil society partner and substitute for the SK kagawads, to ensure greater participation and check and balance; the incorporation of an anti-dynasty provision to limit politicization of the youth rep; fiscal autonomy and accountability on the youth fund; and incorporation of accountability mechanisms and ground for removal from office.
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