Solon files bill to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan

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MANILA, July 17 (PNA) -- Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo (2nd District, Valenzuela City) has filed House Bill 1333 seeking to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) by changing the age requirement for SK members and officers, removing the SK Federation president as ex-officio member of local government legislative bodies such as the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panglungsod and Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and scrapping the 10 percent allocation of Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) due to barangays designated for the SK.

Gunigundo said the enactment into law of his reform proposal will save the government P9.25 billion which can be allocated for teacher training and materials development under the K to 12 Law.

Gunigundo, a lawyer, said the present SK set-up is flawed because for one, public funds are at the disposal of SK officials who are minors. In cases of misappropriation or malversation, they are immune from graft and corruption charges, according to him.

Secondly, he said the spending habits of SK must be aligned with the National Development Agenda for education and health. He cited that for 2013 alone, P6 billion will be spent to fund various sports related activities and conferences of the SK nationwide.

Third, Gunigundo said local politicians are interested to get the SK Federation president to vote or side with them in the municipality, city and provincial boards. This is the primordial reason why they finance the campaign of SK candidates according to him. “Removing the ‘ex-officio’ position of SK in the local government legislative bodies will insulate the SK from the negative influence of unscrupulous politicians,” he said.

Fourth, he said the SK is not truly representative of the entire youth population of the country. Based on data supplied by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the National Youth Commission (NYC), there are only 2,459,520 registered SK voters for the October 2010 elections, which is not even 10% of the 27,825,500 total youth population nationwide according to Gunigundo, a Deputy Majority Leader of the 15th Congress.

“We cannot entrust power and public funds to teenagers aged 15 to 17 years old who are just beginning to learn what responsibility and accountability are all about. Under our existing laws, minors who are below 18 years old cannot enter into agreements, sign contracts, enter into marriage, obtain driver’s licenses, nor be prosecuted for criminal offenses. They have not reached the age of majority or emancipation,” said Gunigundo.

He further said the fear that the youth might not be heard is baseless as persons 18 years old and above can be elected as barangay kagawads, persons 21 years old and above can be elected in the City or Municipal Council, and persons 25 years of age can be elected as member of the House of Representatives.

Gunigundo said in electing the 42,025 SK chairmen and 294,175 Sangguniang Kabataan councilors across the archipelago, the Comelec needs at least P3.2 billion to stage the political exercise. He cited the Local Government Code provides that 10 percent of the IRA share of barangays should go to the SK. For 2013 alone, barangays are entitled to a total IRA of P60.47 billion. The P6.05 billion goes to the youth councils. “With the approval of this bill, our government saves P9.25 billion which can be allocated for teacher training and materials development under the K to 12 Law,” said Gunigundo.

House Bill 1333 seeks to amend Section 424 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, so that the Katipunan ng Kabataan shall be composed of Filipino citizens actually residing in the barangay for at least six months, who are 18 but less than 21 years of age on the day of the election, and who are duly registered in the list of the Sangguniang Kabataan or in the official barangay list in the custody of the barangay secretary.

It also seeks to amend Section 428 of RA 7160 so that an elective official of the SK must be a Filipino citizen, a qualified voter of the Katipunan ng Kabataan, a resident of the barangay for at least one year immediately prior to election, at least 18 years but less than 21 years of age on the day of the election, able to read and write in Filipino, English, or the local dialect, and must not have been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.

Furthermore, it seeks to amend Section 429 of RA 7160 so that the term of office of the SK officials elected under the proposed Act shall commence at noon of November 30 next following their election and shall end at noon on 30 November five years thereafter unless sooner removed for cause as provided by law, permanently incapacitated, die or resign from office or have reached the age of 21.

The measure also seeks to repeal Sections 436 to 438 of RA 7160 pertaining to the Pederasyon ng mga Sangguniang Kabataan.

The measure modifies Section 329 of Republic Act No. 7160, pertaining to the general fund of the barangay fund, so that all the income of the barangay from whatever source shall accrue to its general fund and shall, at the option of the barangay concerned, be kept as trust fund in the custody of the city or municipal treasurer or be deposited in a bank, preferably government-owned, situated in or nearest to its area of jurisdiction. Such funds shall be disbursed accordingly.

The measure also provides for the amendment of Section 3 of RA 9164 so that for purposes of the October 2015 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan election provided under the proposed Act, the Comelec should fix a special registration of voters. Subsequent registration of barangay and SK voters shall be governed by RA 8189 otherwise known as the Voters' Registration Act of 1996. (Media ng Bayan)

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