Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday lamented the lost opportunities for some youth leaders arising from the proposed postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections from December 2022 to October 2023, saying the bicameral committee was given too little time to consider important provisions raised by senators in the unified version of the measure.
In a manifestation on the Senate floor on September 28, 2022, Cayetano said while he understands the need to postpone the SK elections, the unified version of the bill will disqualify aspirants who would be one year too old by October 2023.
Under the SK Reform Act of 2015, only Filipino citizens 18-24 years old are allowed to be candidates for SK elections.
“Ngayon lahat ng mga SK na 24 years old, hindi na pwedeng tumakbo next year, so ninakaw natin at nanakawin natin ang pangarap nila because we postponed it,” he said.
Cayetano was addressing Senator JV Ejercito, who presented the bicameral committee report on Senate Bill No. 1306 and House Bill No. 4673 postponing the barangay and SK elections to October 2023. The unified measure was ratified by the Senate on Wednesday night.
Cayetano argued that the Senate version of the bill would have allowed SK aspirants who are currently 24 years old to still participate in the October 2023 village and youth council elections despite being considered over-aged.
He acknowledged that the bicameral committee had less than a day to consider the additions made by senators, and that insisting on the age-related provisions would have triggered a deadlock which might have killed the postponement bill given the time constraints.
“Parang damned if we do, damned if we don’t tayo, because last-minute nag-bicam, and today lang,” the senator said.
Earlier in the session, Cayetano had suggested making a rule requiring bicameral committee members to submit their reports two to three days before the last session day so that if any member of the Senate or House of Representatives had objections, they would have time to reconvene the bicameral committee to resolve those.
“If we do the bicam a few days before (the last session day), we will have more bargaining power to force or to negotiate with our counterparts in the House regarding the provisions that I think are well thought of coming from this chamber,” he said.
Cayetano urged lawmakers to view the Sangguniang Kabataan as an equalizer for leadership training opportunities among the youth, especially those from lower income families for whom local youth councils represent their best shot at community leadership.
“Alam niyo po y’ung mga mayaman, napakaraming opportunities for youth leadership e. Pero ang mahihirap, ito ang tsansa nilang maging involved sa barangay,” Cayetano said.
“So I’m hoping this is really the last postponement,” he added.