Senate ratifies bicam report on SK Reform Act

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Nov. 4 (PNA) – The Senate on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Reform Act.

A total of 16 senators voted in favor while none opposed the bicam report. Senator Vicente Sotto III cast abstention vote.

Senator Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV, one of the seven senators who authored the Senate version of the bill (SB No. 2401), said bicam has approved an anti-dynasty provision.

The provision bars relatives of local elected and appointed officials up to second level of consanguinity and relatives of national and appointed officials from sitting as SK officials.

“With its anti-dynasty provision, the SK Reform Act aims to implement genuine reform in the country’s electoral system when it comes to youth representation,” Aquino said.

Aquino headed the Senate contingent while South Cotabato Pedro Acharon led the House contingent in the bicameral conference committee.

Other lawmakers who joined the bicameral conference committee were Senators JV Ejercito, Koko Pimentel, Nancy Binay; Dinagat Rep. Arlene Bag-ao, Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Barry Gutierrez and Davao del Norte Rep. Anthony del Rosario.

Aside from the anti-dynasty provision, the bicameral conference committee also approved the adjustment of age limit of SK officials from 15-17 to 18-24 years old, making them legally capable of entering into contracts and be held accountable and liable for their actions.

If enacted into law, the SK officials are required to undergo leadership training programs to expose them to the best practices in governance and guide their development as leaders.

The SK Reform Act also mandates the creation of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), a council that will support the SK and ensure the participation of more youth through youth organizations.

Furthermore, the ratified version will allow the SK to have financial empowerment and accountability, where 10 percent of barangay funds will be managed by the youth leaders for their projects and programs. They may enter into contracts on their own, but will be accountable for all disbursements.

Aside from Aquino, other co-authors in the Senate include Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel Jr., Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Cynthia Villar and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.

Once ratified also by the House of Representative, the final version of the SK Reform Act will be transmitted to Malacanang for approval of President Benigno Aquino III. (PNA)