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Marcos says SK reforms needed

SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has cited the  need to institute reforms in the Sangguniang Kabataan as a result of the perception it has lost its effectiveness in serving the young sector.

Marcos, who repeated the rising calls to abolish the SK, cited reports that the SK leaders had become too politicized and susceptible to dishonest practices in handling the public funds entrusted to them for the projects and programs intended for their constituents.

In a privilege speech delivered Wednesday afternoon, Marcos said he believed the SK’s structure had failed to serve the youth.

“Thus, before the scheduled synchronized barangay and SK elections on October 28, 2013, I filed Senate Bill 1186 that later became  R.A. 10632, and which postponed the said elections to a date between October 28, 2014 and February 15, 2015 to be determined by the Comelec.

Marcos pushed for SK reforms in his sponsorship speech on the SK Reform Bill, or SB 2401 under Committee Report 75.

He said the  Constitution required the state to recognize the vital role of the youth in nation-building and to promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being.

He said the Constitution tasked the government to inculcate patriotism and nationalism in the youth and to encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.

Despite the pervasive skepticism on the effectiveness of the SK and the perception that they are being used by politicians for their own agenda, Marcos said: “I deeply regard youth participation as an important component in nation-building.”

The amendments in his proposal include raising the age ceiling for the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan (the successor of the Sangguniang Kabataan) from the current 15 to 17 to 15 to 30 so that the younger members would be guided by the experience of the older ones. He also said the new ceiling conformed with the definition of youth under Republic Act 8044 creating the National Youth Commission.

Marcos said the age range of the officers of the Sangguniang Kabataan was 15 to 17 at the time of election and below the age range of majority.

He said raising the age ceiling would make the youth eligible to sign contracts and incur obligations.

“This legal impediment has practically exposed our young leaders to pressure and interference from some unscrupulous barangay officials in the implementation of their programs and projects. If they are of legal age, then they are ready for and capable of full accountability,” Marcos said.

He also called for a mandatory training program for youth leaders prior to their assuming office to re-orient them on patriotism, nationalism and values-enhancement towards nation-building and build their capabilities in leadership, program and project development and sustainability, financial management, accountability and transparency.

A training fund of P50 million would be established from available resources to be jointly managed by the National Youth Commission and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Marcos is also introducing such amendments to the law creating the SK because he firmly believes in this constitutional mandate on youth development and participation in national affairs.

When the clamor to abolish the SK became too loud last year, Marcos proposed a bill postponing the SK elections from October 28, 2013 to any time between October 28, 2014 and February 15, 2015 to give time to review the reforms in the system. The Commission on Elections will determine the actual date of the elections.

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