government / politics / Uncategorized

How the SK Reform Act will Fail

The SK Reform Act of 2015 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) is the country’s latest  piece of radical legislation that is sure to shake the country’s dramatic political scenery. The law is inserting many provisions which doubtless will make many people hopeful and so many others quibble in contempt. From anti-dynasty provisions to raising the age of leaders, the law is striving to ensure greater political participation from the broader youth sector. Through RA 10742, the hope is that the SK becomes a more meritocratic and participatory governance structure responsive to the needs of young people.

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Complemented with a rehauled logo.

After reading the SK Reform Act’s IRR for the umpteenth time, there a lot of things I could say that still need to be addressed. The policy reforms have substantially addressed in paper many of the former shortcomings of the previous SK model. Yet the future impact and limitations of the IRR are yet to be tested in the real world. Come this October 2016, we shall see how the New SK fares better than the Old. Gleaning from the SK IRR here are the potential choke points which shall constrict further development if unaddressed:

  1. Single Person Dependencies: What I find most disconcerting about the SK IRR is its over-reliance on single leaders and officers to take charge. The three crucial persons taking charge of the SK  have no “second-liners” or back ups that are automatically and legally authorized to take charge in the event of passive conservatism of its leader or utter incompetence. The only available remedy in such a case would be through a coup d’etat or replacement. There is no procedure written to create team structures which allow for fluid transition. Fluid transition is also important to ensure that lazy, incompetent or inactive officers are automatically replaced. The SK requires the formation of team structures that will distribute the work-load of the officers to ensure that the job is delegated not to one but to many. Team structures also diffuse burn-out and continue working despite the absence of one member. Currently, since important work is restricted to a few persons, these individuals are structural points of weakness whose leadership deficiency can cascade to the entire group.
  2. Agency Laziness – Looking at the things that require to be supplemented with additional memorandum, many of its shortcomings can be patched with additional memorandum and orders from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other relevant partners (i.e., the National Youth Commission). The problem is if anyone of these agencies  forget that they have serious commitments to SK Reform they can restrict the law’s design. Take for instance the existence of the “Philippine Youth Development Plan or PYDP”. Under the law, the PYDP is the anchor with which the Local Youth Development Plans (LYDP), Comprehensive Barangay Youth Development Plan (CBYDP) and the Annual Barangay Youth Investment Plan (ABYIP) are to take its cues. Since the last National Youth Assessment Study conducted last year, nary a whisper has been heard of the PYDP for the next four years or for 2016-2020. The failure to pass the PYDP by January 2017 of next year will force many of us to grasp for any valid interpretation to gain access to funding. Not too mention the countless mechanisms for reimbursements and quorum requirements the DILG will probably pass in 2018.
  3. Legal infirmities (possibly) – SK Reform cases will be serious bones of contention. The passage of the law’s anti-dynasty provision (Section 10, par 6) is set to challenge the entrenched interest of the Philippine political class. Never before in the history of Philippine legislation has such a provision been tested in court. Will the lower courts declare the clause as unconstitutional until the Supreme Court passes a final decision? Granting for argument that the law is constitutional, will the anti-dynasty provisions of the 1987 Constitution survive the coming Charter Change? Only the coming years will show.
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