Image via WikipediaLawmakers are divided on the issue of whether to abolish or extend the law that created the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).
During the recent hearing of the House Committee on Local Government, Rep. George Arnaiz (2nd District, Negros Oriental) urged his colleagues to extend the discussion before they vote on the bill.
"We should have a cooling period before we vote on the issue before the end of the year," said Arnaiz, chairman of the House body.
Of the nine measures, which were filed in the House of Representatives, four are calling for its abolition and five are for strengthening or reforming the SK.
The bills seek to amend Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991. The SK was created by Presidential Decree 1191 during the Marcos regime.
Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo (2nd District, Valenzuela City), a proponent of the SK abolition, said even President Benigno Aquino III and Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo are calling for the abolition of the SK.
"We cannot entrust power and public funds to teenagers aged 15-17 years old who are just beginning to learn what responsibility and accountability are all about," Gunigundo said.
Gunigundo said the youth should be given more time to prepare and gradually realize what is behind the world they are entering into. "Great power comes with great responsibility. At this point in time, they are expected to devote their precious time to their studies," he said.
"What the SK needs from the legislative is not a proposal to abolish it but a proposal to strengthen it through concrete and specific reforms that directly and unequivocally tighten the loopholes in existing laws," said Rep. Raymond Palatino (Party-list, Kabataan).
Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV (1st District, Davao del Sur) said there is no need for the SK because the youth sector is properly represented by so many other competent marginalized sectors.
For his part, Rep. Marcelino Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City) said that the youth have been highly encouraged to participate in politics and governance, and for this reason, the Philippines is the only nation in the world who has a mechanism of involving the youth sector in governance.
In filing House Bill no. 2770, Teodoro said this is the government's response to the United Nation's Convention on the right of the children to create an avenue wherein they are engaged in and given the chance to represent their sector as active participants in the affairs of the government and of the country as well. Teodoro's measure shall be known as the "Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2010."
Meanwhile, Rep. Rachel Marguerite del Mar (1st District, Cebu City) cited Executive Order no. 438 issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 27, 2005, approving and adopting the Philippine Medium-Term Youth Development Plan (MTYDP) 2005-2010 which shall serve as the guiding framework for National Government Agencies (NGAs), Local Government Units (LGUs) and Non-Government Organization (NGOs) in the formulation and implementation of the youth-oriented programs and policies.
Del Mar said one of the policy strategies stated in the MTYDP is to strengthen the SK's participation in national and local development and institute reforms in the system to make it more responsive to the needs of the youth sector.