Salceda pushes for speedy passage of Sangguniang Kabataan Compensation Act

Elected barangay Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials can look forward to being properly compensated shortly for their local government services.

Albay Second District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda 

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said he is moving for a speedy approval of  his HB 1667 or the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Compensation Act,  through the House Local Government panel “during the sine die adjournment” of Congress, and immediately after President Duterte’s 2021 SONA next July.

Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has hailed the Senate’s recent passage on second reading of its own version of the SK measure which includes both the compensation for SK officials and the grant of civil service eligibility for them. HB 1030 which also authored proposes the same eligibility benefits.

“Compensating SK officials sends a strong signal that the State expects a degree of professionalism and dedication from them similar to what it expects from other paid government officials. It signifies that the State takes seriously the work of the SK. . . I am now working with the House Committee on Local Government to fast-track approval and plenary debates on the measure,” he said.

“We will have to combine my two bills in one committee report, so that we can discuss both during the eventual bicameral conference meetings with the Senate, whose version contains both. . . I think we can have it passed maybe August this year. It’s important that we pass it before we pass the 2022 budget, so we can include the item there. Hopefully, by 2022, SK officials will then receive benefits,” Salceda added.

Crafted by Salceda, HB 1667 which amends RA 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015, also proposes that SK technical officers such as the secretary and treasurer be given compensation for their day’s work.

“In terms of demographic consistency, the Sangguniang Kabataan is the most widely representative level of government in a country whose median age is 23. That is why I believe in making the SK a stronger institution. Let’s invest in them, and also expect better work from them,” the lawmaker said.

Salceda noted that the barangay system has an institutionally embedded dynamism within itself, in the form of the Sangguniang Kabataan. “Long maligned as a ‘breeding ground’ for traditional politics, the SK is actually a potent instrument of governance, if we can strengthen it,” he added.

Under Salceda’s bill, an SK kagawad will receive half the salary of a barangay kagawad, which amounts to around P6,250 even as the benefits may vary depending on the income classification of the barangay.

“Given this institutionalization in pay, we have to clarify our expectations of the SK. As we will be employing secretaries and treasurers for the SK, we must also impose standard auditing rules and procedures. Rules of ethical conduct for government officials must similarly apply to the SK,” Salceda pointed out.

“The SK was a prisoner of low expectations. We did not want to expect much of the SK because we, as a nation-state, did not invest enough in the institution either. With this bill, I hope we will release the SK from this quandary of low expectations and low investment, and truly realize its potential as a basic building block of representative governance,” he stressed.

Despite institutional reforms introduced by RA 10742, Salceda said the “SK remains plagued by generally weak performance that undermine the effectiveness and relevance of the youth council.”

“As Covid-19 threatens at-risk groups, including some barangay officials, SK officials have been mobilized to do the groundwork, being part of the demographic group at least risk of Covid-19 infection,” Salceda said.