Advancing Youth Governance in the Philippines: A Narrative of the Sangguniang Kabataan and its Road to Reform
49 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 4, 2021
In almost 30 years of implementation, the Sangguniang Kabataan, which is the Philippines’ version of the village youth council, has faced many challenges, from accusations of exposing ineffective and corrupt practices to young leaders to allegations of electoral malpractices such as vote-buying and patronage politics. All these led to real threats to the abolishment of a beleaguered governance mechanism which would have been a model of youth participation. In this study, we narrate the history of the Sangguniang Kabataan and its obstacles, and its road to reform over the years. We discuss the key circumstances and influences that led to calls for its reform in the mid-2000s, and the key events and arguments in the SK Reform Law’s legislative process in the 15th and 16th congress. The SK Reform Law was successfully passed through a comprehensive reform agenda and determined leadership, despite multiple strong pushes for abolishment. We also analyzed the current SK Law, its key strengths and weaknesses, and its effects on the power dynamics of the SK and local governments. Despite improvements in the age range, fiscal autonomy, and reinforcement of local youth development ecosystems, coordination in the national level and training in the local level were still lacking. We also looked at the effects of the law’s anti-dynasty provision in 3 key metropolitan areas in the country, and found that despite uncertainties in the implementing procedures, it was able to lower the incidence of individuals with incumbent relatives in local elected positions. In part due to the SK Reform Law, the incidence of dynastic SK officials (eg. Elected SK officials with the same surname as incumbent SK or local officials at the time of filing) decreased by 0.4%, 2.5% and 7% from 2010 to 2018 for Cebu City, Davao City, and Quezon City, respectively.
Keywords: youth governance, Sangguniang Kabataan, legislative reform, political dynasties
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