MANILA, JULY 8, 2013 (PHILSTAR) With teenagers enjoying the right to vote in this country, there is never a shortage of politicians looking after the concerns of the youth.

Whether in Congress or local governments, political leaders long past their youth push measures to promote the welfare not just of teenage voters but also of the very young.

This was one of the major arguments against the establishment of youth councils or Sangguniang Kabataan. But the SK was launched, and soon gained a reputation for being little more than a vehicle for the entry of politicians’ children into the family business.

After many years of having SK representatives on the payroll of taxpayers, several quarters feel this experiment is an unnecessary drain on scarce public funds.

Few Filipinos are even aware of what SK representatives are supposed to do. Calls for the abolition of the youth councils are mounting, and the calls deserve consideration.

The Philippine bureaucracy is bloated enough, with people performing the same functions and agencies existing simply to provide unnecessary jobs at taxpayers’ expense.

Elected officials keep finding creative ways to add to their ranks, also at taxpayers’ expense. The party-list system is an expensive farce. If public funds can be saved by abolishing useless positions, the proposal is worth pursuing. It’s time to review the need for the youth councils.

ABOUT SK: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Youth Council of the Philippines Sangguniang Kabataan

Coat of arms or logo

The Sangguniang Kabataan is the youth legislature in every local village or community.

They are in the age bracket of 15 to 18 years old during the time of election. They initiate policies, programs and projects for the development of youth in their respective political territories.

The Chairman/President of the Sangguniang Kabataan acts as the Chief Executive of the Sanggunian (Council) while the Kagawad (Councilor) as the legislative council.

The Kagawads approve resolutions of the Sanggunian and appropriates the money allotted to the council, a share in the revenue of the Barangay.

The Chairman automatically sits in the Sangguniang Barangay (Village Council) as ex-officio member. He or She automatically gets chairmanship of the Committee on Youth and Sports, one of the standing committees in the village council.

Every Sangguniang Kabataan is then federated into municipal and city federations, then city and municipal federations are federated into a provincial federation.

The barangay SK Chairman/President represents the barangay in the municipal or city federation. The presidents of the city and municipal federation becomes a member of the provincial or metropolitan federation. They elect their own president as well.

The presidents of highly urbanized and independent component cities (Metropolitan Federation) and the provincial federations compose the membership in the national federation. They elect the national federation president who automatically sits in the National Youth Commission as ex-officio member of the commission.

Except national federation, each level of the federation form municipal, city to provincial is governed by the Local Executive Committee composed mostly of the seven regularly elected officers of the federation.

Since 1992, there have been three simultaneous nationwide SK elections held in the Philippines which each term lasting from three to five years due to amendment of the regular 3-year term of the council. After every election, association officers are chosen.

The elected presidents of the municipal associations sit as ex-officio members of the municipal councils, while the provincial president sits on the provincial board. All of these ex-officio members automatically chair the respective councils' committees on youth and sports development.

The creation of the SK is in response to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child to create an avenue wherein youth can engage and represent their sector.

It was in 1975 when the first youth council was established. Former President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree (PD) 684 to announce the formal creation of the Kabataang Barangay (KB) to give the youth a chance to be involved in community affairs and provide the government means to inform the youth of its (government's) development efforts.

The KB had accomplished numerous projects and programs for livelihood, sports, and culture, including the Youth Development Training program which aims to develop values of service, nationalism, and leadership among the youth to make them more productive leaders.

However, controversies surrounded the KB during those times, like the enforcement of authoritarian rule among the youth, opposition of militant youth activity, and the KB's failure to develop the youth as a responsive collective.

Since then, the KB grew less popular among the youth and instead student activism became the trend in youth participation in the country.

In June 1986, a study was conducted on the KB and came up with the following recommendations: Abolish the KB; Create a National Youth Commission (NYC); Establish a National Youth Assembly; and Set up genuine youth representation in government.

Youth consultations were held, and the KB was at once abolished by the government and created resolutions which affirmed the suggestions by the above study.

However, then-president Corazon Aquino have already established the Presidential Council for Youth Affairs (PCYA) instead of NYC, which was successful in coordinating with the youth federations to develop future national leaders, but lacked the powers the Filipino youth envisions for the NYC because PCYA merely coordinated with youth groups.

A proposal was then crafted by the Congress youth representatives and PCYA's technical committee in 1989 to 1990.

The proposal that created the Katipunan ng Kabataan (KK) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) that we know today was incorporated into the 1991 Local Government Code (known as Local Autonomy Law or Republic Act 7160). It formally abolished the KB and provided the youth with a new opportunity to involve themselves in government affairs through the KK and SK.

The KK includes all Filipino citizens, age 15 to 18 years, residing in each barangay for at least six months and are registered in the official barangay list. The SK is the governing body of the KK, a set of youth leaders elected by the KK members to represent them and deliver youth-focused services in the barangay.

So far, there were only three SK election that have been held since 1992 because of the repeated amendments to the regular three-year term of the officials. Currently, the age range of the youth eligible for the KK and SK was reduced to 15 to below 18 due to the change in Republic Act 9164 in 2002.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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