SK and Youth leaders urge P-Noy and Robredo to support SK Reform instead
“Abolition is not the answer.”
This is the statement issued today by Akbayan youth on the recent pronouncement by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to scrap the Sangguniang Kabataan.
In a statement, Marlon Cornelio, Akbayan Youth Secretary-General said Aquino’s proposal to abolish the SK is a fatal detour to his concept of“matuwid na daan governance.”
“With all due respect to the president, but we believe he is mistaken on this issue. The abolition of the SK is a ‘major u-turn’, a crucial reversal of the youth’s participation in governance,” Cornelio said.
“We only abolish inutile, redundant and irredeemable institutions. Fortunately, the SK does not fall in that category. As such, we appeal to the president’s highest sense to re-evaluate his policy statement on the issue,” Cornelio added.
Cornelio explained while his group agrees that corruption and inefficiency are present in the SK, it is not the entirety of institution’s political character. “If we deal with the SK issue using such a flawed assumption, we might as well abolish all the government agencies perceived to be cesspools of corruption. Beyond the bad experiences of some SK councils, there are in fact councils, which have shown great level of competent youth governance.”
The youth group also refuted claims that the SK program is a “waste of government resources.” They said the statement is “sweeping and unfair.”
“If the government wants to really save its resources, then they should train their guns on the state’s inefficient tax collection, burdensome debt payments and unwarranted spending of some government agencies,” Cornelio said.
Cornelio also asserted that young people deserve a good share of government resources. He said the government must see that the continuation of SK coupled with institutional reforms is an excellent investment. “A reformed SK used as a training ground for leadership and governance will greatly help in deepening the government’s bench of competent and patriotic public servants.”
It was reported that Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino wants the SK program scrapped. He explained that under the administration’s proposal, the SK councils would be abolished and only chairpersons would have to be elected this October. He also said the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo was preparing a bill for the said proposals, as they would need an amendatory law.
Meanwhile, Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Coalition spokesperson and SK Chairman John Tobit Cruz called on the Commission on Elections to extend the registration for the SK election. He said the time prescribed by the poll body is inadequate which he feared could lead to a “colossal disenfranchisement of young people in the upcoming SK election.”
“According to our initial projection, around four million youth are in danger of being disenfranchised if the registration period will not be extended,” Cruz said.
Cruz citing data from Comelec and the National Statistics Office said there is an estimated nine million young people lawfully entitled to participate in the October SK election.
“As such, it is reasonable and of the highest urgency that Comelec extend the period for voters’ registration, and if necessary to set up satellite registration offices in the schools,” Cruz added.
Cruz said Akbayan youth and the SK Reform Coalition are willing to help COMELEC in pursuing such positive moves.
The youth groups also challenged the Aquino government to support a legislative bill advocating for a comprehensive reform of the SK.
“Instead of harping the abolition line, we appeal to the government to extend its hand to the youth by helping the sector further reform and democratize institutions for youth participation,” Cornelio said.
The youth advocates are calling on Aquino to certify House Bill 468 otherwise known as the SK Reform and Empowerment Bill as an urgent piece of legislation that must be passed by the 15th Congress. Akbayan Representative Kaka Bag-ao filed the said bill in the House of Representatives.
The SK according to the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) is a unique Philippine mechanism and a quintessential example of child and youth participation in governance. It says the SK provides not only space for youth to participate but also the right and obligation to govern.
For Immediate Release
Che-Anne Matriz, 0918412 8622