The Sangguniang Kabataan is here to stay.
This, as recent pronouncements from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) indicate that the 2010 Barangay and SK Elections is pushing through as set, on October 25, 2010.
While a relief, after calls for the abolition of the Sanguniang Kabataan have been escalating in the past month, fueled by statements from the Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, Akbayan Youth, along with the SK Reform Coalition will continue to beef up their campaign for the reform and strengthening of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and the Katipunan ng Kabataan.
Several local public officials have openly expressed their support on the calls for SK abolition, it will not be surprising if a fresh round of calls for the abolition of SK will again surface. Akbayan Youth, thus, maintains that there are no strong and sufficient grounds to conclude that the SK is a failure, hence, no basis for its abolition.
Akbayan Youth acknowledges the flaws in the current SK set-up where instances of corruption have been recorded, and projects have been found to lack in youthful dynamism and imagination, confined mostly to sportsfests and beauty pageants. The current SK national and provincial leadership, in particular, has received raps from several SK members, youth organizations and the local media with issues ranging from incompetence to fiscal transparency to personal excesses, however, Akbayan Youth believes that abolishing the Sangguniang Kabataan is not the answer.
Patches of Green
In fact, green patches in the greying SK repute still abound, as exemplified in best practice models recorded in the UNICEF-commissioned SK Study released in 2007. In Bohol, best performing and outstanding SK Councils is being yearly recognized in a competitive screening administered by the Provincial SK Federation.
Akbayan Youth believes that the Sangguniang Kabataan “remains to be the best mechanism to ensure active and meaningful youth participation in local governance”. It is, thus, paramount to keep this unique Philippine mechanism – a “quintessential example of child and youth participation in governance” – on the right track by pushing for meaningful and powerful reforms in the SK system.
Redo, Not Undo
Lobbying for the passage of the SK Reform and Empowerment Bill (HB 468) into law will keep on. Said bill was refiled in July 1, 2010, through Akbayan’s partylist representation in the Lower House. This is the 3rd consecutive time the Akbayan has filed said bill, having had filed the same in the 13th and 14th Congress.
Some of the bill’s key provisions are the expanding of the age range of the SK from the current 15-17 to 15-25 years old; the empowerment of the constituency of the SK, the Katipunan ng Kabataan, giving the body oversight functions to make the SK officials accountable to their constituency; the enhanced involvement of the youth organizations through the creation of Youth Development Councils that has representation in the SK; fiscal autonomy; and an anti-dynasty clause which democratizes the access to power.
The local Akbayan Youth group will continue to solicit recommendations from the local SK stakeholders, particularly with the outgoing SK officials and youth organizations working closely with SK.