Calling on NYC, DILG, DBM, COA, CHED and DepEd to Advance the Full Implementation of the SK Reform Law

The role of youth in nation-building has been recognized in Philippine laws and youth participation is guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution. More than half of Filipinos are young people aged 15-30 years old. Young Filipinos have always had the historical role of being the “hope of the motherland,” having led the biggest movements that made the difference in the country: the fight for independence, the anti-Martial Law struggle and the unseating of corrupt officials.

In recognition of the historical role of the youth in nation-building, its participation has been guaranteed by the State from the national to the community level. The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) is a mechanism for the youth to take part in governance present in every barangay and federalized from local to national levels. The National Youth Commission (NYC) has been created to ensure that the youth participate in policy making and that the youth’s concerns and issues are taken up in government policies and programs. 

Every one of the more than 42,000 barangays has an SK composed of at least eight (8) youth officials elected by the youth constituency of the barangay. SK is supposed to serve as a training ground of young Filipinos in governance and leadership. It is a mechanism for youth governance that addresses youth concerns and issues. 

Since SK’s foundation in the 1990s, it has been plagued by criticisms, including how it has become a breeding ground of traditional politicians and a venue to teach the youth of corruption, for being ineffective in achieving its purpose of youth empowerment. Largely, it has yet to serve as an accountability mechanism that ensures services and programs of local and national governments are responsive to the youth and to citizens, in general. 

Recently, there have been efforts of youth advocates to reform the SK. An SK Reform Law (RA 10742) has been passed in Congress in 2016 strengthening the linkage of the council to its constituency (the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan), providing more extensive capacity-building for its leaders and incorporating a groundbreaking anti-dynasty provision. 

Three years after the passage of the SK Reform Law in 2016, the law has not been fully implemented. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) lacks implementation details and SKs and stakeholders have yet to be oriented on it. Most SKs have yet to comply with the requirements for them to receive and utilize their budget. There is confusion among SKs, local government officials and national government agencies on mandates vis-à-vis the SK Reform Law implementation. The status of the SK budget is unclear and the trainings conducted have been lacking in substance and form. 

In this light, the undersigned SKs and SK reform advocates call on the immediate action of concerned government agencies, namely NYC, DILG, DBM, COA, CHED and DepEd, on the following demands: 
• Form and regularly convene an inter-agency body on SK reform 
• Review the IRR to clarify mandates and accountabilities in implementing the law and the details of coordination among agencies and stakeholders in consultation with stakeholders; 
• Properly orient the SKs of the IRR and how it will be carried out, addressing any gaps in the guidelines upon implementation 
• Orient agencies and all government offices of their responsibilities and mandate in the SK reform law
• Review and redesign trainings/ capacity-building programs that build capacity of SKs, making it more comprehensive, applied and rationalized 
• Allocate funds and conduct mandatory and continuing trainings for SKs (chairs, kagawads, secretaries and treasurers) and Local Youth Development Officers (LYDOs)
• Provide pro-active assistance to SKs in fulfilling their mandate, including in complying with the requirements to access and utilize their funds
• Elect the new set of officers of the the Sangguniang Kabataan National Federation (SKNF) at the soonest possible time 
• Ensure that the entitlements, benefits and privileges for elected SK officials stipulated in the SK Reform Law as provided
• Set up a reporting/ feedbacking mechanism for the proper implementation of the SK Reform Law, especially to ensure that the problems of access to entitlements, benefits and privileges of SK officials in the Law are reported and responded to 
• Explore the creation of liga ng mga kagawads to ensure the active involvement of kagawads in SK governance.

(This petition is initiated by SK Miranda, G-Watch-Samal, G-Watch Quezon City and G-Watch Southern Leyte in response to the issues and concerns raised by SK leaders and officials that participated in the G-Watch initiative entitled Empowering Youth to Lead Accountability (EYLA) - #SKasGWatch. The said initiative aims to enable SKs to lead accountability by capacitating them to engage and/ or monitor key government programs and projects.)

If you are an SK official or an SK reform advocate who want an effective implementation of the SK reform law and who support the call of this petition, you may join or support the petition by commenting your name and locality below this post, re-sharing this post or by contacting us using the details provided in the photo.