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HISTORY CHECK It was in 1975 through Presidential Decree 684 when the idea of a youth representation was formally

recognized. Under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, it was later termed as the Kabataang Barangay aimed to develop every youth leader help his community through his own small scale but useful projects.

However, during the time of Marcos rule, the emergence of militant youth leadership surpassed the popularity of the pro government Kabataang Barangay. The militant youth became very visible and played critical role in forming the broad front of the progressive Philippines left.

When Cory Aquino was elected as the president of the Philippines, KB being a name associated to Marcos was replaced with Presidential Council for Youth Affairs (PCYA). Unfortunately, it only functioned as a coordinator of youth groups and failed to provide leadership training to harness the leadership skills of young people. Eventually it was abolished and again replaced by the 1991s Local Autonomy Law or the Local Government Code of 1991 . The rise of Sangguniang Kabataan (also called as Katipunan ng Kabataan) has put an end to the KB brand. SK in its formative years has had gone through many revisions which in its current form is a product of those transformations.

SK AS THE YOUTHS VOICE As the name speaks for itself, SK is a governing body for young people. They are in the age bracket of 15 to 18 years old during their reign. These youth leaders are elected to initiate policies, programs, and projects for the benefit of the youth in their respective territories. Some of their projects were to help the less fortunate students by giving them school supplies, construction of places for leisure, and numerous medical missions. They serve as the voice of the youth, speaking in behalf of them and representing the rights of the youth in the society.

That is why when the clash between to or not to abolish SK Election becomes a focal issue in the youth sector, various opinions emerged. Just like what the SK National President Louise Gabriel Del Rosario said Bakit natin tatanggalin ang kaisa-sang pundasyon ng kabataan para sa good governance?

WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM? SK election is set to happen this coming October 28, 2013. Meaning, two months from now, the 6th election for the youth leadership in the country is ready to roll. However, many Filipinos strongly believe that SK isnt necessary anymore and therefore should be abolished. SK is argued to be the breeding ground for political dynasties. The Filipino people, particularly the youth do not see SK facilitating the development of good leadership qualities in young people for Philippines as a nation to confidently say youth is the hope of the future.

FROM THE OFFICIALS If supporting statements from the people who have expressed specialist opinion in their fields are what you need, youve just found the right way. Not only common Noypis have these sentiments about SK, but also the officials who found the SK election not helpful anymore to contribute to the nations progress.

Edgar Erice, Caloocan Representative. The original objective of the creation of the Sangguniang Kabataan as a training ground for the countrys future leaders is a noble one. However, through the years, i t has been observed that the ugly side of Philippine politics has served to distract it from its primordial mission. It has become the logical first target of any local politician who is seeking a higher position, (PDI 2013) Lucenito Tagle, Commissioner- SK had become a training ground for corruption with older politicians tutoring the budding youth leaders in the ways of taking government funds. (PDI, 2013)

Sixto Brillantes, COMELEC Chairman- We are teaching them to resort to hakot even at their young age, (PDI, 2013) HAKOT SYSTEM Aside from the idea that the term HAKOT is associated with power greediness and corruption, it now talks about the hoarding of voters in illegal way. For example, a candidate would pay scores of people, bring them to COMELEC Offices, and make them register as voters. Despite knowing that some of them arent supposed to be voters from that Barangay, they pay the person to register and vote for them. Brillantes doubts that this practice is coming from the voters eagerness to effect change in the country.

Ask them why they were willing to suffer the rain, hunger and exhaustion? Are our voters now that motivated? I dont think so, Brillantes said in an interview with Inquirer.

He simply doesnt buy the concept that Filipino voters are voters alone. They are paid voters.

REFORM NOT ABOLISH Para po sa amin, hindi po katanggap-tanggap ang direct abolition, kundi reform. Kaya po, ito po nilalabanan po namin ngayon, nilalapit po naming sa ating mga kongresista, senador na sana mapakinggan nila an gaming side na meron ginagawa ang Sanggunian Kabataan, na hindi po tama ang kanilang ibinibintang sa amin said by the SK National President Louise Del Rosario.

With regards to his statement, an unknown author launched a petition online wi th a message No to SK Abolition! Yes to SK reformation! The said petition supported by member of Brotherhood of Destiny INC. (BROOD) still believes that SK is one of the most relevant youth formations in nation building. They dont consider abolition is the best thing to do but rather reformation to certain provisions like:

1. Increase age bracket of the Katipunang Kabataan (KK) from 15 to 17 to 15-21 and age qualification bracket of SK officials to 18-21.

2. Give some degree of fiscal autonomy to the SK like those granted in other Local Government Units in order that the youth councils wouldnt be beholden or wouldnt be used for partisan activities by the barangay elders and the mayors.

3. Increase relevant trainings of the SK which focuses on their functions as SK officials, this can be done through coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Youth Commission (NYC), Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Sports Commission (NSC), and other National Government Agencies, Local Government Units (LGUs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs);

As of know the petitions got 136 signatures. Having this few numbers of signatures isnt quite good for a certain petition which was made last year (2012).

THE PAST AND THE PRESENT I also got the chance to talk with some people who had and still have the position. They might have the throne and enjoyed the privilege of being SK Officials, but what makes the difference is that experience tells it all.

Christian Martizano, SK Federation President (2002-2007)

In my opinion, SK should be abolished in the political system in the Philippines since its duties and responsibilities on its respective areas can be done by every executive and legislative body from barangays to national level. My stand for its abolition was based on my personal experience since the SK was being used by higher officials for their personal interest which includes political dynasty and graft and corruption.

THE WRITERS STAND I was once a SK voter, and I have seen how my vote was put into waste. Unluckily, I belonged to a community where the elected SK chairman is the son of Brgy. Chairman. I have been a witness to the perpetuation and continuing existence of political dynasty. Im not saying that our SK Chairman did not do something of service to the people; I just believe that he could do something more if he is really that dedicated and willing. SK is about passion to serve the public, not a profession where you can hoard tons of peso. Im not generalizing but my ears have heard enoug h of similar stories from their respective SK officials.

Regarding the reformation, I only have one sentence for this. There is nothing to change, if there is nothing to change. Yes, we sometimes see mistakes and tend to give it another try. But Im not en tirely convinced that one more try could really put an end to this entire try in SK. SK has been into many revisions, hoping for an after effect. But did we felt the difference between the service of SK from the local government officials? I didnt felt it, Im sorry.

With the Hakot system, Mr.Sixto Brillantes and I are wearing the same shirt. I dont think that there is a voter on his own willing to suffer from hunger and exhaustion just to vote. Im not saying that Filipinos are worth the cent, but I c an see that a cent, oh well I should say lots and lots of cents are worth a lot for a Filipino nowadays.

WHAT HAPPENED TO JANE CAJES? Her case was thrown out of court. The charges against her were said to be just false charges. She is now a happy wife, living her own life, far from the black propaganda (as she defined it) she had been through. Miles away from the charges she faced.

Just like what happened to Jane Cajes case, I can see a long way to go before the entire abolition of SK election happens. Yes, there might be copious reasons why it should be abolished, but that wouldnt be enough to kill a cow easily. Many might be shouting, dying to have it abolished but as long as the most powerful seat is being occupied by the current most powerful person in this country, the long way to go means miles away to run. Yes it will be abolished, but not today, not tomorrow, not even next month or next years. WE STAND! WE RETAIN! WE REGAIN! No to SK Abolition! Yes to SK Reformation!

I, for one, hope that youth will again revolt and again demoralize the dead weight of conformity that now lies upon us. - Howard Mumford Jones

It is enshrined in Section 13, Article II of the Philippine Constitution that [T]he 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. In response to this constitutional provision the Congress in 1991, created the SK-Youth Council or Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) for the purpose of introducing the young people to government service in local, provincial, and national levels.

Nevertheless, after sixteen (16) years of existence, many have been seriously skeptic on the importance of SK, that even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself once said "I think it's a good idea," Scrap that Useless Thing, since much resources and energy were given but no result had been fulfilled. There were numerous attempts to abolish the SK, in 2002 Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Benjamin Abalos himself wanted to abolish the SK because according to him it is doing more harm than good instead of harnessing their ideals by involving youths in their communities, exposing them to politics at such an early age only corrupts them. The issue even reached the Plenary of the 13th Congress, when Representative Gilbert Remulla filled House Bill No. 185 which tended to abolish the SK. Now, as the 2007 Barangay and SK synchronized election is coming the call for the abolition of SK is resurrected, the League of City Mayors of the Philippines (LCMP) have agreed the Sangguniang Kabataan should be abolished, saying SK officials could not divide their time between schoolwork and responsibilities in the SK, according to a top official of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines. The mayors do not openly speak [about the issue] because of political reasons, but they are for the abolition of the SK, Mayor Ramon Guico, LMP president, said. Even the countrys student governments want the abolition of the non-performing SK. They announced in their manifesto that they would launch a letter-writing campaign. Benralph Yu, president of the Region XI Federation of Student Governments, said student councils are better equipped to represent the countrys youth than the SK, that they could begin community work to make up for the vacuum opened if the SK is abolished. They viewed SK officials now as the BIMPO, stands for Batang Inudyukan ng Magulang sa POlitika or Ang Anak ng TRAPO. However, we believe that despite of the many flaws of the present structure of the SK, it is one of the most relevant youth participation in building a strong Nation, hence, we would like to propose the following for possible amendments to certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7160 (R.A. 9184) as known as the Local Government Code, Book III, Chapter 8 Sangguniang Kabataan: 1. Increase age bracket of the Katipunang Kabataan (KK) from 15 to 17 to 15-21 and age qualification bracket of SK officials to 18-21, amending Sections 424 and 248 therein. We believe that SK officials should have juridical capacity as provided in Civil Code, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations x x x [the] capacity to act, which is the power to do acts with legal effects, and this can be acquired once majority commences at the age of eighteen (18) years; 2. Give some degree of fiscal autonomy to the SK like those granted in other Local Government Units in order that the youth councils wont be beholden or wont be used for partisan activities by the barangay elders and the mayors. This fiscal autonomy will entail legislation for the SKs share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) to be released directly to the youth councils; 3. Increase relevant trainings of the SK which focuses on their functions as SK officials, this can be done through coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Youth Commission (NYC), Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Sports Commission (NSC), and other National Government Agencies, Local Government Units (LGUs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs); 4. Provide for provisions that will depoliticize the SK, as proposed by AKBAYAN Party-List Representative Ana Theresia Hontiveros Baraquel in her House Bill No. 959, introducing the Anti-Dynasty provision as stated in Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution to avoid corruption and patronage, and 5. Support the recommendations made by the study conducted by the UP group entitled as Study on the Impact of the Youth participation in the Local Development Process: The Sangguniang Kabataan Experience. 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 SKs 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 whats 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 Robredos 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.

PIONEERING 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 its 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 doesnt 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.

USELESS? 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 achiev ers. 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 m atulungan 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 Childrens Fund and DILGILGILG to determine SKs 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.

SK REFORMS 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.