By Danielle Rieza-Ecal, AJ-NewsLink
Legazpi City – Albay Second District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda last week led Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials and representatives of key government agencies here in a consultation dialogue on the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations of the SK Benefit Expansion and Governance Reform Act, which now awaits President Duterte’s signature.
Salceda, the bill’s principal author in the Lower House, said the consultation is needed since the SK has the definitive say in attaining the thrusts, and capacitating the role of the youth in nation-building through relevant programs.
“To fully represent the youth in government affairs is to fully represent the future in government decisions. Any country that can do that can reach its national ambitions,” lawmaker said, stressing the reform is long overdue:
The consultation conference, attended by hundreds of SK officials, and the first in a series of its kind, was held February 19 at the Legazpi City Convention Center. It also aims to prepare the youth on the larger responsibility they face, once the bill is signed.
The Senate and House of Representatives early this month have ratified the bicameral conference committee report on Senate Bill No. 2124 and House Bill No.10698 which both seek to amend Republic Act No. 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Reform Act of 2015.
HB 10698 substituted Salceda’s two earlier bills — HB 1030 and HB1667 — which proposed that SK councilors be granted the “barangay official eligibility” from the Civil Service Commission, and provide SK councilors with honoraria, respectively. Under the current law, only SK chairpersons are entitled to the said benefits.
The Legazpi City Convention Center dialogue was attended by representatives of the regional offices of the Department of Budget and Management, the Commission on Audit, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Commission on Elections, Civil Service Commission, National Youth Commission, Philhealth, Technical Education Skills and Development Authority, and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Salceda said the SK Benefit Expansion and Governance Reform Act entitles SK councilors to “honoraria, allowances, and such other emoluments as may be authorized by law.”
He said the reform also expands the functions of SKs to include skills training, youth employment, values education, environmental protection, and other programs specific to the vulnerabilities affecting young people.
“If we want to professionalize the SK, we also have to ensure that its efforts are compensated. The SKs were very crucial in the fight against COVID-19, as they were among the barangay frontliners that could be mobilized for ‘ayuda’ and module distribution,” Salceda said in a statement.
“I believe the SK is still underutilized. We are giving them more benefits, but in return, we expect them to perform more meaningful work,” he added.