Senate Bill No. 2401 under Committee Report No. 75
Otherwise known as the
Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014
Senator Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV
16th Congress, Senate of the Philippines
Co-Sponsorship Speech, 29 October 2014
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon.
It is my honor and privilege to stand before you today to support the development of our Filipino youth leaders and spur the next set of Filipino heroes, as I co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2401 under Committee Report No. 75 otherwise known as the Youth Development and Empowerment Act of 2014.
In a country where half of the population are 15-30 years old, it is our duty to provide an enabling environment for the youth to be able to participate in building our nation.
The Filipino youth have the innate energy, creativity and innovative ideas to come up with new solutions to address the age-old problems of the country.
It is thus urgent to harness their full potential as a partner in the development of our country, to encourage their active participation in programs and projects of communities and engage them in transparent and accountable governance.
Ang kabataan ay hindi lang ang pag-asa sa kinabukasan ng ating bayan. May kakayahan na silang maging bahagi sa pagbabago ngayon at sa kasalukuyan.
Mr. President, para sa inyong kaalaman, ang title ng una kong panukala para sa bill na ito ay Ang Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan.
Even though it was not carried in the amendments, we chose that title because we believe that the reforms for the Sangguniang Kabataan would develop more heroes among our Filipino youth, who are ready to sacrifice and give their time, talents and resources for the benefit of our countrymen.
Mr. President, my career as a public servant started in the youth movements, where I served as a member of the student council, which promoted volunteerism among our fellow students, and even at times, went to the streets to fight for the social issues of the day.
Noong ako po ay naging Chairman ng National Youth Commission noong 2002, binuo namin ang Ten Accomplished Youth Organization (TAYO) Awards na hanggang ngayon ay nagbibigay parangal sa pinakamagagaling na youth organizations sa bansa.
We recognize these youth groups that have made an impact all over the country through projects in education, health, livelihood and the like.
Isa sa mga nanalo ay ang Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, Inc. (GVSP) ng Cebu. Natuklasan nila na isa sa bawat tatlong batang pipi’t bingi ang namomolestya sa kanilang lungsod.
Kaya gumawa sila ng information campaign laban sa sexual abuse ng mga pipi’t bingi at kilalanin ang karapatan ng mga persons with disabilities.
Napansin naman ng Dire Husi Initiatives sa Cagayan de Oro ang mga batang lansangang naaadik sa rugby.
Kaya tinipon nila ang mga ito, pinakain, binigyan ng arts education at livelihood training para di na malulon sa droga at magkaroon ng mas magandang kinabukasan.
Ang huli kong halimbawa ay ang Hayag Youth Organization ng Ormoc City. Tinuruan nilang lumangoy ang kabataan sa kanilang lugar at nagbigay sila ng iba pang water-disaster preparedness training bilang paghahanda sa mga sakuna.
Nang dumagsa ang Bagyong Yolanda, walang nalunod o naaksidente sa kanilang mga miyembro dahil sa kanilang training program.
Mr. President, the Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, Dire Husi Initiatives and Hayag Youth Organization are only three youth groups among thousands who have spent their time creating relevant and innovative projects that address different issues in their communities such as PWD abuse, drug addiction and disaster risk preparedness and management.
Admittedly, if we talk about the Sangguniang Kabataan, there seems to be a disconnect with the youth that I have mentioned, and the reality on the ground for a number of Sangguniang Kabataan.
But today, we have the opportunity to change this notion if we pass this measure – the 2014 Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Bill.
We want to create an enabling environment for more young people to serve and find the heroism in them and hence, we are pushing for the reforms found in this bill.
After much debate and discussion, we want to highlight three points which we feel would encourage more young people to participate and spur heroism.
These are: expanding the age limit, creating local youth development councils and lastly, ensuring more relevant programs and projects of the SK all over the country.
Expanding the Age Limit
Firstly, we are proposing to expand the age range from 15 to 30 years old, in accordance to Republic Act 8044 or the Youth in Nation Building Act of 1994, and to peg the age of officers between ages 18 to 24.
The reform in age range will enable a greater number of youth to participate and give officials more independence in their affairs, such as signing contracts, disbursing money, and making them more accountable for their actions.
Youth Organizations Participation: Local Youth Development Council
The second major reform that we are pushing for is the introduction of the Local Youth Development Council (LYDC), a council that will support the Sangguniang Kabataan and ensure the participation of more Filipino youth through youth organizations.
The LYDC will compose of representatives from the different youth organizations in the community – student councils, church and youth faith groups, youth-serving organizations, and community-based youth groups.
It aims to harmonize, broaden and strengthen all programs and initiatives of the local government and non-governmental organizations for the youth sector.
The LYDC will serve as guide and refuge for the Sangguniang Kabataan so that their programs and policies will be rooted in the needs of the various youth oganizations that are present in their communities.
Mr. President, ang mga lungsod ng Pasay, Naga at Cebu ay kasalukuyang may mga LYDC upang mahikayat ang kanilang mga kabataang makibahagi sa mga programa ng kanilang LGU.
Sa Pasay, bahagi ang kabataan sa cleanliness at peace and order programs, at sa mga livelihood projects ng lungsod.
Sa Naga naman, nagfocus sila sa paggawa ng training at seminar para sa pisikal, pang-akademiko, psychological, at values formation ng kabataan.
At sa Cebu, kasama ang kabataan sa pagtatayo ng mga dormitories para sa kanilang migrant youth na nag-aaral sa iba’t ibang unibersidad ng kanilang lungsod.
In my time as the Chair of the National Youth Commission, I saw that this is a proven structure that can not only develop our Sangguniang Kabataan to be better leaders, but ensure that their decisions, actions and priorities are in line with the needs of the youth in their area.
Relevant and Impactful Programs and Projects
Lastly, we are pushing for the enumeration of clear themes of the programs and projects that can be explored by the LYDC and the SK in formulating their Youth Development Plans, to weed out tokenistic projects for the sake of having programs for the youth.
These programs need to meet the goals of promoting meaningful youth participation in nation-building, sustainable youth development and empowerment, equitable access to quality education, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and resiliency, youth employment and livelihood, health and anti-drug abuse, gender sensitivity, capability building and sports development.
We hope that the bill will also clarify the relationships between the Sangguniang Kabataan, the National Youth Commission and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
By doing so, we ensure that the programs and policies that they will come up with will truly be relevant and impactful for the sector they are supposed to serve.
Developing the New Filipino Heroes
Mr. President, it is urgent and important that we reform the Sangguniang Kabataan, as a platform for engaging the youth in the grassroots level, and where the youth will be honed to become better and more effective public servants in the future.
It is now time to work on strengthening our leadership institutions, particularly youth development programs to form new leaders with technical and management competence, and are grounded on Filipino values.
Kung itataguyod po natin ang kapakanan ng kabataang Pilipino, mabibigyan natin sila ng pagkakataong / gamitin ang kanilang likas na pagiging malikhain at madiskarte / sa paggawa ng mga bagong proyekto at programa para sa ating bansa.
Professor Ambeth Ocampo, historian and youth advocate mentioned that our heroes where young when they changed the course of our country: “[Jose] Rizal published the Noli Me Tangere at 26, Juan Luna painted the Spolarium at 27, and [Andres] Bonifacio began the Revolution at 30… So if [we] think about it – our heroes are young.”
It is imperative that we provide an enabling environment for more young Filipinos to be the new heroes that our country needs.
Maraming salamat po at magandang hapon.
Mabuhay ang kabataang Pilipino!