The election period has started for the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. The filing of certificates of candidacy began on August 28, 2023 while the campaign period will be from October 19 to 28. Election day will be on October 30. According to the Commission on Elections, a total of 672,432 seats will be up for grabs for the BSKE, including 336,216 for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairpersons and members across the country.
For the incoming officials of the SK, they will benefit from a stronger and more progressive SK system brought about by the enactment of Republic Act 11768 or the latest amendment to the SK Reform Act of 2015. We were informed by the National Youth Commission that the implementing rules and regulations for the law was signed on September 2, 2023, more than a year after former President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 11768 into law.
We spearheaded the passage of the law as Chairman of the Committee on Youth as a response to the questions being raised about the relevance of the SK system and amid calls for its abolition. Critics of the SK argued that its members have become politicized and that the projects undertaken by the youth body were lacking in substance. It is not uncommon actually to relate the SK to programs such as community basketball leagues, pageants and sportsfests. This poor perception of the SK does not help its cause and from what we were told during our committee hearings on the measure, interest among the youth in joining the body has also been declining.
Several factors contribute to the waning participation in the SK, including the absence of honoraria for most of its members. At present, only the SK chairpersons are entitled to honoraria by virtue of their status as ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Barangays. We took this into account when we crafted the latest reforms to the SK system. For one, we included the grant of monthly honoraria to the SK members, secretaries and treasurers, charged against the SK funds. RA 11768 also authorizes the local government units to provide additional honoraria, as well as social welfare contributions and hazard pay to the SK chairpersons and members through their own local ordinances.
We placed a cap of 25 percent for the utilization of SK funds for personnel services to ensure that the bulk of the budget will go to programs and projects that will benefit the youth in their respective communities. In the selection of programs, projects and activities, we made it clear that they should not be limited to the sportsfests and pageants but to more productive uses that are aligned with the objectives of the SK. These include the provision of student stipends, food, book and transportation allowances; sports and wellness projects; skills training, summer employment, cash-for-work, on-the-job training, and livelihood assistance; projects promoting the participation of the youth and their initiation in agricultural, fishery, and forestry enterprises; programs and activities that will locate the youth at the forefront of climate action, environmental protection and conservation efforts; capacity building for grassroots organization and leadership; and programs and activities that address context-specific and intersectional vulnerabilities of young people.
SK officials will also enjoy an exemption from taking any components of the National Service Training Program. They will be entitled to the appropriate civil service eligibility based on the years of service to the barangay, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Civil Service Commission.
Another key amendment to the SK Law that we introduced relates to the qualification of the SK treasurer. The SK treasurer must be 18 to 30 years of age and should have an educational or career background related to business administration, accountancy, finance, economics or bookkeeping. This will help in ensuring the proper accounting of the SK’s funds.
A Youth Development Office will be established in every province, city and municipality to be headed by a youth development officer who must be appointed within a year from the effectivity of the law.
It is our hope that with these benefits and incentives incorporated in the new law, there will be more young Filipino men and women who will join the SK as youth leaders and partners of the government in nation building.
Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 19 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 10 as Senator. He has authored, co-authored, and sponsored more than 330 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara