After a three-year hiatus, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) is back.

And the good news? This youth institution returns with very promising improvements. With the enactment of Republic Act 10742, or SK Reform Act of 2015, the youth sector has a new lease on life.

Photo from Facebook page of National Youth Commission

Photo from Facebook page of National Youth Commission

For years, SK has been tagged as the breeding ground for traditional and corrupt politician. It received criticisms for its flaws and failure to respond to the needs of the sector it represents. In 2013, the SK was challenged by calls for reform, with some asking for outright abolition.

Here are some of the changes that give the new SK law a significant edge over its predecessor.

  1. New age limit

Photo from Facebook page of National Youth Commission

Photo from Facebook page of National Youth Commission

Under the reformed act, the candidate for SK must be aged 18 to 24 at the day of the elections. Previously, the age qualifications was from 15-17 years old. Critics argue that the elected SK officials were too young and their capability to enter into contracts were also questioned. Given the new age limit, the officials may now be held criminally liable if they committed abuse of authority.

  1. With anti-political dynasty provision

Photo from Facebook page of National Youth Commission

Photo from Facebook page of National Youth Commission

The legislation claims to be the first law ever passed in Philippine history with an anti-political dynasty provision. As part of the qualifications of elective SK officials, the candidate “must not be related within the second civil degree of consanguinity (relationship by blood) or affinity (relationship by marriage)’’ to any incumbent elected official.

  1. Expanded membership

The “Katipunan ng Kabataan” or youth assembly expands its membership to include all youth of 15 to 30 years of age. The range of age was also raised since they will serve as the highest policy-making body to decide on matters affecting the youth in the barangay.

  1. Financial independence

Another significant improvement made is that the SK officials will now be given the power to handle their fund. They shall have financial independence to operate, disburse and en cash their fund and income for community projects.

Unlike before, the SK fund, which accounts to the 10% of the general fund of barangay, will be deposited in the name of the Sangguniang Kabataan of the concerned barangay in a government-owned bank. The new measure prevents other barangay officials to have access over the SK fund, as well as to have control over their projects.

  1. Mandatory training programs for the youth

To better prepare the elected SK officials for their responsibilities, they are required to undergo the mandatory training programs before they can assume office.

  1. Other benefits for SK officials

Unlike before, the SK officials will now be provided with Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) coverage.

Also, with the enactment of law, the elected youth officials may now be excused from attending their regular classes given there’s SK meetings or Sangguniang Barangay sessions in case of the chairperson. It has been a problem before that SK officials missed their classes because of their duties.

The SK registration runs from July 15-30, 2016. Registration will continue throughout Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

(RA Gonzales)

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