NAGA CITY, Oct 8 - The National Youth Commission (NYC), as the voice and advocate of the youth, strongly supports the institutionalization of reforms within the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). We oppose any move to abolish or dissolve the institution.
The National Youth Commission fully supports the postponement of the SK elections to give ample time for Congress to decide on the reforms needed by the institution. It is unconscionable to allow another batch of 15-17 years old to be subjected to a system and process that is in dire need of massive structural and organizational reforms. As early as the registration, there are reports of adults and parents who have inveigled or coerced their children to register for SK against their will, some even to the point of asking some youth to register in a barangay where they do not reside. We will witness the same familiar challenges (corruption, ineffectiveness, vote-buying, exploitation, etc) that hound the SK if we are to push through with the SK polls this year.
We are fully grateful and supportive of the Senate version which defers the elections to 2014 with the incumbent SKs on hold over capacity. Viewed as the least disruptive modality, this allows continuity of programs on the ground while Congress discusses the needed reforms. While there are concerns about the incumbents being over-age, the setting of the age and the policy decision on hold over is, at the end of the day, purely a Congressional prerogative. We have full faith in both chambers of Congress that before the end of 2014, a truly responsive, empowered and empowering youth Council at various levels shall have been put in place.
We are, however, uncomfortable with the version offered by COMELEC and the House of Representative Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms where there is no hold over and the seats for SKs are vacated until 2016. THIS VERSION OF THE POSTPONEMENT IS DE FACTO ABOLITION OF THE SK. This strips the youth of due representation and is a blatant violation of the Constitutional provision which encourages youth involvement in public and civic affairs. We can NOT deny the 30 million Filipino youth of their representation and voice at the barangay and Sanggunian levels. It is a great disservice to the Filipino youth if this version will prevail.
There is also a proposal to have the SKs appointed in the meantime. This will just subject those appointees to an intensely political and partisan process and is therefore untenable. We are still hopeful that they Lower House will eventually decide in favor of youth representation by approving the hold over of incumbent SK officials. After all, the incumbents derived their electoral mandate from the youth themselves – a veritable litmus test of meaningful youth participation.
We recognize the challenges and criticisms hurled against the SK. For this reason, we call on all parties concerned to address these head on by discussing and implementing the needed reforms through the appropriate legislation.
We express solidarity with various youth organizations and SKs as they march in the Lower House to have their voices heard today. ###
NO to SK abolition! REF: USEC. LEON G. FLORES III, CESE
NO to de facto SK abolition! Chairman and CEO, NYC
YES to SK Poll Postponement! Mobile: 0920-9493276
YES to Hold Over! Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
YES to SK Reform!