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The New Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)

By: Atty. Karissa Faye Tolentino

According to Jose Rizal, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.” This translates
to “The youth is the hope of the nation.” Cliché it may seem, but no less than the
Philippine Constitution recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and
encourages their participation in public and civic affairs. 1 We also have the
Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) that provides the youth with a platform to introduce
them to governance.

The Old SK

Before I discuss the salient provisions of the new SK law, let me tell you a brief
history of the SK. SK arose from the Kabataang Barangay (KB), instituted by
virtue of Presidential Decree (PD) 684, dated April 15, 1975. The KB was
suppressed during the presidency of Corazon Aquino because of the issue
nepotism and political dynasty with Imee Marcos (the former president’s
daughter), serving as National Chairman of the KB. With the enactment of the
new Local Government Code (RA 7160) in 1991, the youth council was
reinstituted, now called SK.

The issues on nepotism and political dynasty again arose, with some SK
Chairmen and SK Councilors having blood ties to incumbent local and national
officials. Allegations of corruption, capacity to enter into contracts, and questions
on their ability to handle large amounts of money were also present.

But many believed that abolition of the SK was not the answer. It is the only
avenue where young people can participate in governance. To abolish the SK is
to restrain their voices. Reforming and strengthening the foundations of this
institution, rather, would make it less vulnerable to corruption.

The Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act

With the enactment of Republic Act 10742 on January 15, 2016, the issues
discussed above are now addressed.

This is the first law to comply with Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution, which
provides that “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public
service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

It has an anti-dynasty provision, thus ensuring equal and fair access to youth
participation in accordance with the constitution.2 As part of the qualifications of
elective SK officials, it requires that they not be related within the second degree

1 Article II, Section 13 of the 1987 Constitution

2 Section 10, RA 10742.
of affinity or consanguinity of any incumbent national, regional, or local elected
official at the city, municipality, or barangay level.

This new law mandates that the SK Chairperson and officials cannot be below
the 18 years of age. Those who are running for office must be aged 18 to 24 at
the day of the election, elected at large by the youth resident in the community.

The Katipunan ng Kabataan (Youth Assembly) expands its membership to

include all youth of 15 to 30 years of age, who are entitled to vote for the SK
officers. They are mandated to meet once every 6 months to review the annual
performance and financial reports of the SK.

This new law also provides for fiscal autonomy and a system of transparency and
accountability. Each province, city, and municipality is also required to create a
Youth Development Office, with paid staff, to serve as a focal point and to
provide support.

I believe the enactment of this new law will further enhance youth empowerment
in the affairs of government. All the SK needs now are the young people to lead
this change.