By Alden M. Monzon, Reporter

Senate approves bill to postpone anew Sangguniang Kabataan polls

Posted on January 24, 2015

FOLLOWING LAST year’s approval at the House of Representatives, a bill intended to postpone the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election was approved in the Senate and is scheduled for floor deliberations in the coming weeks.

The Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., approved House Bill No. 5209 on Friday, moving anew the February polls to the last Monday of October this year.

“We are done with the hearing. If we can finalize the report, then I will speak with the Senate President and we’ll see when we can schedule it for floor deliberations,” Mr. Marcos told reporters after Friday’s session.

The SK election will be held together with the barangay (village) elections.

The last set of SK leaders vacated their posts on Nov. 30, 2013, following the enactment of Republic Act No. 10362, postponing the polls from October 3 that year to February 21 this year.

Mr. Marcos had agreed to push for the new postponement only if the polls will be done under the newly reformed SK system being pushed in both houses of Congress.

The senator also noted the daunting task of reconciling 11 versions of the SK reform bills, saying that giving Congress more time would lead to a better crafted bill.

Kabataan Partylist Tery R. Ridon bucked at the postponement, saying this will effectively remove youth representation in the villages.

“He [President Benigno S.C. Aquino III] and the Liberal Party stand to gain the most from the postponement as they have control over the ad hoc youth committees setup in the barangays at present,” Mr. Ridon said in a text message.

Mr. Ridon said he will raise his issues against the postponement of the SK elections in the bicameral conference committee, after the Senate approval of the bill.

For its part, the National Youth Commission (NYC) said reforms in the SK electoral process must first be implemented before conducting elections.
“Reform agenda is our priority,” NYC chairperson Gio Tingson said in an email.  “Since the SK election postponement in 2013, young people’s venues for political participation have been hindered. This upcoming postponement must be done to accomplish reform and maximize grassroots participation among the youth.”

Mr. Tingson urged the fast-tracking of the reform bill, to include provisions on fiscal autonomy, on broadening the age limit in SK participation to 24 years old from the present 15 to 18, and against nepotism.