ON THE SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN: ABOLITION OR REFORM? Jeffrey C.

Crisostomo | 12 July 2010 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND On April 15, 1975, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree 684 which enabled the creation of the Kabataang Barangay (KB). Upon the toppling of the dictatorship and the rise of President Corazon Aquino to power, the entire system of government was overhauled through the 1987 Constitution. With this, changes in institutions in local governance were implemented. Thus, the KB became the precursor of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), which was established by virtue of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 authored by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel. In the Corazon Aquino Administration, among the policies of the state as mandated by the 1987 Constitution is the empowerment of the youth: The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs. (Article II, Section 13, 1987 Constitution) PRESENT CONTEXT As such, the SK, as a legislative body for and composed of the youth, is indeed essential in providing projects and programs for the rights and welfare of the sector. However, there have been various calls that seek to either reform or abolish the SK. It is in this light that several organizations proposed to undertake a study on the SK in order to provide comprehensive information essential in resolving prevalent issues. In 2007, the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) initiated a study entitled The Impact of Youth Participation in the Local Government Process: The Sangguniang Kabataan Experience (2007). This research was commissioned by the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) – National Barangay Operations Office. The UP CIDS study was able to pinpoint the following problems in the SK: 1. In its primary task of being a legislative youth body, the performance of the SK is weak, which can be seen in the small number of legislation passed and the lack of consultations with constituents. 2. There is dissonance between the needs of the youth in a community and the actual projects implemented by the SK. 3. The public has a lack of knowledge about the actual roles of SK officers which results to further disparities between the needs of the youth and the actual response of the SK.

. The most prevalent negative impact of the SK reported by its officers is that it consumes too much time thereby preventing them from focusing on family and school. On the other hand. The same can be said with the fate of the bills in the House of Representatives. kidnap-for-votes or kidnap-notvote tactics and mudslinging employed by their relatives and parents. However. and Rep. Aquilino Pimentel filed SB 2155. respectively. 6. the group mentions that the SK has become a breeding ground for traditional politicians. all bills have been shelved at the committee level by the end of the Fourteenth Congress. 2007. The SK may bring about negative behavior from its officers. 2nd District) [HB 2422]. Apart from the low level of participation among the youth in governance. Mark Douglas Cagas (Davao del Sur. vote-buying. no bill has been close to being enacted into law. On September 5. Be it for reform or abolition of the SK. Rep. 1st District) [HB 5856]. all these measures ended up at the committee level until the end of the Fourteenth Congress. 2nd District) [HB 1243]. a manifesto was issued by the Federation of Student Governments for the abolition of the SK which was deemed as “non-performing” at the National Leadership Training for Student Government Officers in Baguio City (Philippine Daily Inquirer. 1st District) [HB 3350]. Similarly. the position of stated in the manifesto only focuses on youth empowerment via student leadership without necessarily taking into consideration the need for involving out-of-school and community-based young people. 3rd District) [HB 2063]. Rep. Measures that sought to abolish the SK were authored by Rep. in the Fourteenth Congress. which instead sought to place a youth representative in the Sangguniang Barangay. Magtanggol Gunigundo (Valenzuela. as in the Senate version of Sen. LEGISLATIVE MEASURES In lieu of the problems being faced by the SK. who are themselves politicians. Pimentel. The manifesto states that the SK “initiated our young early into the ways of traditional politics because of the dirty tricks. These measures aim to reform the SK through amendments in the Local Government Code of 1991. Rep. various measures have been filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives aiming to reform or abolish the SK. 2nd District) [HB 3192]. Jose Solis (Sorsogon. efforts in the Senate to reform the SK were seen in SB 1478 and SB 927 of Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda. Bernardo Piñol. Ronald Singson (Ilocos Sur. and their political patrons.” Furthermore. Edelmiro Amante (Agusan del Norte. However. In the pursuit of abolishing the SK. 2007). Sen. most of these House Bills propose to have a youth representative in the Sangguniang Barangay instead of having the SK. 5. such as corruption and nepotism. Lorna Silverio (Bulacan. 2nd District) [HB 2999]. Rep. Jr. However. Rep.4. there is a low level of awareness and appreciation about the importance of such involvement among young people. (North Cotabato.

and Rep.Those that called for the reform of the SK were measures by Rep. while the SK may have its flaws. Heighten the accountability of SK officers under the Katipunan ng Kabataan by granting oversight powers in local planning and management of funds. The Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Coalition. CONCLUSION The Sangguniang Kabataan National Federation. Not Abolition (2007). Create a Katipunang Pangkaunlaran ng mga Kabataan to foster skills-training and capacity-building among SK officers in order to enhance their potentials. With all arguments taken into consideration. the UP CIDS study asserts that. Salvador Escudero (Sorsogon. 1st District) [HB 6211]. Amending the existing laws and structures would ultimately advance the interests of the youth in being part of civic and political affairs. Raul del Mar (Cebu City. Rep. Judy Syjuco (Iloilo. a group of student and community-based youth seeking to catalyze changes in the current SK system. Prevent the perpetuation of political dynasties within the SK. although the bills do not take notice of the fact that the SK caters to youth in general. the purpose of these measures is not simply to abolish the SK. 2nd District) [HB 1538]. Eduardo Joson (Nueva Ecija. Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan PL) [HB 959]. Raymund Palatino (Kabataan PL) [HB 6870]. The salient provisions of HB 959 are the following: 1. This is a valid concern. Hontiveros’ HB 959. 1st District) [HB 2862]. Furthermore. but to provide an alternative in the form of a youth representative in the Sangguniang Barangay. it is still a unique system for the involvement of the youth in governance and community service in partnership with various government and private organizations. argues that the bills that aim for the abolition of the SK and the provision of one youth representative in the Sangguniang Barangay defeats the purpose of empowerment. Rep. which is the reference bill in consolidating all SK reform measures in the House of Representatives. 1st District) [HB 2500]. lobbied for the passage of Rep. Rep. They claim that having only one representative may hinder the maximum participation of the youth. and 3. Rep. Abolishing it would destroy a concrete venue for the youth to be part of nation-building and social progress. in their position paper entitled Reform. However. 2. . accountability will not be kept in check with only one individual as opposed to an 8-member SK. Measures that intend to abolish the SK primarily consider the prioritization of academic education among the youth. including young people who are not enrolled in an academic institution.

Otherwise Known as the Local Government Code of the Philippines and for other Purposes. Senate. http://congress. . 2007. Senate Bill No. Republic of the Philippines. September 5. 2008. Amending for this Purpose Certain Provisions of Republic Act 7160. Philippines.ph. Sangguniang Kabataan National Federation. Reform. The 14th Congress. Date accessed: July 11. Philippines.gov. 2007. 14th Congress of the House of Representatives Legislative Information System. University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS). The Philippine Daily Inquirer. 14th Congress of the Senate of the Philippines Legislative Information System. 2010. Ana Theresia. House of Representatives. Otherwise Known as the Local Government Code of 1991. 7160. Philippines. Student governments urge abolition of ‘non-performing’ SK. 2010.gov. Amending for that Purpose Republic Act No. Philippines. Vincent. Marlon. Cornelio.REFERENCES Cabreza. Pimentel. Aquilino. Hontiveros-Baraquel. et al. The 14th Congress.ph. 2007 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 2155: An Act Abolishing the Sangguniang Kabataan. Date accessed: July 11. http://senate. The Impact of Youth Participation in the Local Government Process: The Sangguniang Kabataan Experience. 2008. Republic of the Philippines. Amidst Mounting Calls for Abolition. SK Should Start Working Good! (position paper). Not Abolish (position paper). 2008. House Bill 959: An Act to Reform and Strengthen the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Philippines.

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