A national youth group advocating for a reformed Sangguniang Kabataan welcomed Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s decision to retain the SK, but with major changes.
Akbayan youth Secretary General Marlon Cornelio said they laud Sec. Robredo for siding with the youth as it fulfills its difficult task to empower itself through good and democratic governance.
“We are very happy that Sec. Robredo decided to retain the SK. At a time when the call for the unreasonable abolition of the program seems to be gaining headway, the decision is a welcome respite. Certainly, the youth sector will very much appreciate this,” Cornelio said.
Cornelio said his group is also glad that the DILG is very open to their proposals to reform the SK. “We are pleased that Sec. Robredo supports our proposal to reform and empower the SK. We hope in the coming days the youth sector and the DILG can work more closely to effectively introduce much needed changes in the program.”
It was reported that on August 20, Akbayan youth had a meeting with Robredo wherein the youth group appealed to the DILG chief to reverse its decision to abolish the SK. The group instead called for a radical reformation of the SK program. The DILG, for its part suspended the plan to scrap the SK pending the submission of the “reform proposals” from Akbayan youth.
Akbayan youth is seeking to increase the SK’s age range from the current 15-17 to 15-25 for council members and 18-25 for chairpersons. The group is also demanding fiscal autonomy, the establishment of sustainable youth development councils and a special prohibition barring candidates from political dynasties from participating in the program.
Recently, it was reported that the DILG chief turned around from its original position to scrap the SK. Robredo said the abolition of the SK would only deprive the youth of representation in government. Instead, Robredo advocated for its retention if its current set-up is 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.
At the House of Representatives, Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao filed House Bill 468 otherwise known as the SK Reform and Empowerment Bill, which seeks the same reforms mentioned, by Akbayan Youth and Robredo.