Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said Wednesday that he wants the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) retained, but with major changes, especially in the age range of the members of the youth council.
Robredo said that abolishing the SK would only deprive the youth of representation in government.
“Palagay ko dapat po bigyan ng pagkakataon na may representation ho ‘yung kabataan. Hindi tama na dahil may problema siya [SK] ngayon, hindi na siya puwede,” he told GMANews.TV in an interview Wednesday.
(I think we should give the youth a chance to have representation. It’s not right to junk the SK just because it has problems.)
No less than President Benigno Aquino III, who appointed Robredo, also earlier expressed support for plans to scrap the SK. (See: Akbayan youth chides Aquino for ‘scrap SK’ plan)
The DILG chief however said that although he wants the SK to be retained, its current set-up should be made more “inclusive” by increasing the age range of its members, from its current 15 to 17, to 15 to 25 or 30 years old.
“Palagay ko ‘yung 25 kabataan pa siya. Dati, ‘yung SK, 15 to 21 naman ‘yan eh. Kaya lang ginawang 18 and below ‘yan, dahil ayaw nila pabotohin ng dalawang beses ‘yung 18 to 21 years old,” he said.
(In my opinion, 25 is still a youthful age. The SK previously observed a 15 to 21 age range. It was narrowed down to 18 and below, only because they didn’t want the 18-to-21 age bracket to vote twice.)
Robredo likewise said that even months before Monday’s grassroots polls, the DILG had already submitted to Congress a draft of possible reforms in the SK.
“Kung hindi nga tayo naunahan ng halalang ito, I think there is an agreement already sa Congress, DILG and the Office of the President na kailangan talaga baguhin na ‘yung batas sa SK. In fact, we have submitted a draft already,” he said.
(If only we weren’t overtaken by these elections, I think there is an agreement already among Congress, DILG and the Office of the President that the law on SK really needs to be amended. In fact, we have submitted a draft already.)
Robredo, who received the Ramon Magsaysay award for Government Service in 2000 when he was still Naga City mayor, said local government units (LGUs) should also think of other modes for youth participation aside from the SK.
He cited as an example the “city youth officials project” he implemented in Naga City, where several young constituents in his LGU were given the chance to assist local officials during the summer vacation and observe how they work.
“Ito, hindi lang ito titulo, kundi trabaho. They take an exam and panel interview. Ang kanyang trabaho, for 45 days, kasama siya ng mayor at magtatrabaho siya. Mag-ooffice siya sa summer,” he said.
(This isn’t merely a title, but real work. They take an exam and panel interview. For 45 days, they will be with the mayor and do work. They will hold office during the summer.)
The SK drew flak days before Monday’s polls when two youth groups filed corruption charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against SK national federation president Jane Cajes, for alleged lack of transparency in the use of the council’s funds. (See: As Filipino youth prepare for polls, major scandal rocks SK)—JV, GMANews.TV