SK Abolition Halted, Iloilo youth orgs laud DILG Sec’s commitment to reform SK

25 08 2010

REPRESENTATIVES from the SK Reform Coalition main office in Metro Manila and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jessie Robredo on Tuesday agreed to amend the Local Government Code of 1991, particularly amending provisions on the Sangguniang Kabataan, Katipunan ng mga Kabataan and its powers and duties.

The dialogue was set to finally settle confusion on the issue of the SK Abolition. After the said meeting Secretary Robredo committed to carryout massive reform measures to empower the SK instead of abolishing the institution.

By this, the local partner youth organizations of the SK Reform Coalition are elated of the DILG Secretary’s commitment.

“We gladly welcome Secretary Robredo’s support in the initiative to deliberately reform the SK as an institution that directly involves the youth in governance”, says Kenneth Eusebio the First Time Voters’ Network (FTV) Iloilo City Coordinator.

“Secretary Robredo’s added commitment will make the SK Reform initiative gain ground and all the more gain acceptance among SK abolitionists”, follows Eusebio.

FTV recently joined calls in forwarding SK Reform amidst the initial pronouncement of President Aquino regarding the fazing-out of the said youth governance body.

Among the salient points which the SK Reform Coalition representatives and Robredo agreed on was the increasing of the age bracket of youth participants from 15-17 to 15-25. The two groups agreed to this in order to broaden participation and representation of the sector.

Also agreed during the consultation was the creation of a Youth Consultative Body or Youth Development Council, which will be composed of local youth organizations in the barangay. This body will act as the youth development arm of the barangays.
Akbayan Youth Iloilo City Coordinator Wharson Arguelles says that, “This common agreement on what to reform in the SK is an important step towards enhancing the organizational capacity of the SK to be responsive to the needs of the youth in the Barangays as well as expand the participatory reach of the institution”.

The mentioned agreements are included in the SK Reform and Empowerment Bill (House Bill no. 468) of Akbayan Party-list filed by its representatives Arlene Bag-ao and Walden Bello last July 1 which will be enhanced with the agreed amendments and submitted in a draft bill by DILG to Malacanang.

“We expect that the enhanced version of the Bill will be out very soon and that the next step will be done through legislation in Congress”, Eusebio supplements.

“However, we are not keen on expecting action from just pronouncements”, quickly adds Arguelles “Though we are very optimistic of the Secretary’s expressed support, we will try to see if such support be translated to real and concrete actions for reforming the SK”.

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iLang Dekada Na, Bakit Wala Pa ring Magna Carta?

20 11 2008

A Round Table Discussion on the Magna Carta of Students Bill.


Click HERE to register!

STUDENTS’ RIGHTS are HUMAN RIGHTS! Support the Magna Carta of Students Bill!

The ratification of a “Magna Carta” for Students is long overdue, the Congress has obviously neglected this issue over the years and this has resulted to several students’ rights violations and abuses in a number of universities across the country,” says Tina Langit, UP Manila Medicine Student Council President and Student Council Alliance of the Philippines Vice-Chairperson for NCR.

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, a broad network of student councils and governments, together with Akbayan Youth and Movement for the Advancement of Student Power, has filed the latest version of the bill September 17 last year. However, since two more versions already exist in the House of Representatives, the Committee on Higher and Technical Education (HoR-CHTE) has decided to create a substitute bill which will consolidate the three house versions.

“It’s actually quite disappointing that it has taken this long before the advocacy has taken another leap. We are hoping that the 14th Congress will take this seriously this time around,” adds Langit.

SCAP is currently a part of HoR-CHTE’s technical working group (TWG) for Magna Carta of Students. At present, the TWG was able to tackle several provisions of the substitute bill (i.e. Right to Admission, Non-Discrimination and Quality Education, Right to Organize, etc.) in its first TWO meetings but has not reconvened ever since. SCAP is growing wary of the very slow developments in the lower house and is at the same time appalled to learn that fellow youth groups have expressed their lack of support for the bill.

“Magna Carta is not in any way a one shot effort to reform the whole education system but it is a first step to at least mitigate the worsening predicament,” quips Third Bagro, UP Diliman University Student Council President.

Basic issues, such as the students’ right to be admitted in schools without prior discrimination to their civil status, gender/political preference has been violated in the past by several academic institutions.

In St. Joseph’s College in Quezon City, for example, unmarried pregnant students are not allowed to continue their studies in the institution unless they “take a leave of absence until after they deliver their babies.” It’s either that or they’re asked to drop out. Saint Pedro Poveda College also discourages pregnancies outside of wedlock. San Beda College on the other hand is in fact conducting “masculinity tests” on its alleged gay students. (Bagas, 2008; Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Aside from these, a gay student from Philippine Normal University was reportedly prevented to run for Student Council Office unless he cuts his hair accordingly, to look manly enough for a university official.

Some violations go as far as detaining/prosecuting student leaders and activists who express dissent over certain school and State policies.

Furthermore, Student Councils/Governments, in a lot of schools nationwide, are merely allowed to act as “event’s organizers or program implementers” of school administrations. More often than not, SC’s, are not consulted on crucial matters such as tuition increase. Venues for student participation remain very limited to this date.

SCAP believes that Student Councils, just like the Youth Councils in communities, are potent arenas for political reforms. This is where good governance starts and this opportunity should not be wasted. Therefore, it is the inherent responsibility of this society to empower and strengthen this institution such that it can become a training ground for future leaders.

“Education knows no sex, religion, physical status or gender. On the contrary, it should encourage free and critical thinking which should help in molding and crafting new ideas and means that could later contribute to genuine national development.” says SCAP Secretary General Paula Bianca Lapuz.

Violating students’ rights is a poor sign of democracy. SCAP believes that a national policy on students’ rights and welfare is imperative in actually democratizing and liberating academic institutions.

SCAP has helped to form the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare, to consolidate the efforts of all the Students’ Rights advocates. The coalition is comprised of different student councils and organizations mostly based in the NCR area. These youth leaders actively engage policy debates inside schools and inside the Congress. The coalition likewise, is actively lobbying for the bill’s immediate passage.

SCAP remains steadfast in its pursuit and encourages fellow youth groups to join the advocacy.

“The only way for us to move forward is for us to join hands and give this bill a fighting chance,” Lapuz Concludes.


2 06 2008

Civil society calls on stop on budget cuts on education


The Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI), the group of nongovernment and people’s organizations that pioneered civil society engagement in the Philippine national budget process, called on State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) to be vigilant in the release of their budget from the national government.

The ABI also called on the Administration to go beyond having a moratorium on tuition fee hike in SUCs. It should seriously look into long-lasting solutions to the problem among which are: an immediate stop to the budget cuts on education; provide a monitoring scheme of SUC’s expenses and income generation funds; halt the flawed policy of creating more SUCs; and implement a program for the strengthening and conversion of present state schools into institutions of quality tertiary education without succumbing to privatization and “rationalization” schemes. Read the rest of this entry »

Youth Leaders Blame 26 years of Deregulated Education for Rampant Tuition Hikes

26 05 2008

Youth leaders from different universities and communities blame rampant tuition increase on more than 20 years of deregulated education. Akbayan Youth Chairperson Marichris Cabreros points out that due to the Government’s neglect of the education sector, more and more universities increase their tuition annually in absurd rates.

“CHED’s inefficiency to regulate tuition increases only illustrates, time and again, the incapacity of the institution to uphold the rights and welfare of the students,” says Student Council Alliance of the Philippines Deputy Secretary-General Alvin Quintans.

In this premise, education is seen as a commodity that the youth cannot afford rather than a basic right. “Tuition fee and miscellaneous fee increases coupled with another fare hike, staggering prices of oil, electricity and rice, will further the surge in the number of out of school youth,” Mr. Quintans adds.

“The unceasing and ancient problem of the education sector rests on the argument that deregulation never resolved the issue of lack of competent curricula and learning tools. In as much as it never resolved the issue of growing number of out of school youth,” says Third Bargo, UP Diliman University Student Council Chairperson.

Akbayan Youth and partner school and community based organizations will welcome the opening of classes this June with a series of demonstrations in CHED and universities nationwide to call for a stop in tuition fee and miscellaneous hikes and higher budget allocation for the education sector.

Student Councils Criticize DepEd’s Attempt To Ban Lozada from Speaking in Schools

7 03 2008

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines is utterly aghast with DepEd Chief Jesli Lapuz, for blatantly censuring Jun Lozada’s visits in campuses last Wednesday. Although l.apuz had quickly taken his statement back, SCAP is still dismayed with how he had tried to bar the ZTE-NBN star witness from speaking about the anomalous contract in Public Schools and State Colleges and Universities.

What is even more disappointing is that after Lapuz had dug out an existing “memorandum” supposedly prohibiting any form of politicking in graduation rites, he actually admitted in an interview with the media that he cannot prevent other politicians from speaking in such events in Government schools that are highly dependent on political patronage. Read the rest of this entry »

Students Continue to Demand for Truth

6 03 2008

E.O. 464 has been dead for two years, yet executive officials continue to hide behind its skirts. Now that GMA has finally revoked it, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, continues to demand for truth. Government people should not invoke executive privilege either to evade saying the truth.

“I am still discomfited at this point. The Supreme Court has already nullified E.O. 464 years back but no positive effect came out of it. It seems to us (SCAP) that GMA had only revoked the executive order to pacify the Catholic Bishops. In which case, we are not yet assured of Neri’s unhindered testimonial.” Bianca Lapuz, SCAP Secretary General quipped. Read the rest of this entry »

SCAP Urges Students to Begin Practicing Their Rights to Suffrage in Universities

6 03 2008

SCAP calls on students to vote meaningfully in the upcoming Student Council Elections this February-March 2008 in a number of universities all over the country. Meaningful political participation in universities is reflective of a politically matured and conscious youth sector.

From 2001-2007, a large number of youth were disenfranchised during national elections. SCAP blames this incredulous phenomenon to the lack of active and continuous government support in an efficient Voters’ Education Program. At the same time, the alliance also took part in the First Time Voters’ Project which succeeded in its information drive campaign in the past polls since 2001. Read the rest of this entry »