Making youth budgets transparent
First published September 26, 2016
From 2010 to 2012, I was elected as chairperson of the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) in our small village. For two years, I was a politician, a youth leader, and a student. I was a naive 17-years old when I took on that government post. I did not think through that decision.
I was tasked to manage a youth fund worth about Php 200,000 or $4,000 annually. This is relatively not much but compared to bigger cities, this can amount to millions of pesos. Not knowing much where to spend the money, I followed what my predecessors and other villages do with their youth fund.
The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) has been abolished after my term (and it's not because of me!). Through the years, the SK has been mired with corruption, inefficiency, and incompetence among the ranks. In 2016, there was a renewed sense of optimism for the SK. It was revived under a new law. A new logo and a new law won't make a difference unless implementation is made better.
Under the law, local governments should allocate 10% of their budgets to youth development programs and projects. Using estimates for 2017, this would mean about USD 1 billion. This is based on the internal revenue allotment for all local governments in the national budget. That money can either make a difference in the lives of young Filipinos or make corrupt politicians a billion dollar richer.
My friends Karla, Marianne and I took on the challenge of making the SK more transparent and accountable in the future. We pitched Project TASK or Project Transparency and Accountability in the Sangguniang Kabataan during the Social Good Summit 2016 organized by Rappler. And we won.
We want to create an interactive open data portal for SK projects and budgets to make sure youth budgets are not corrupted and spent wisely. We hope to see youth budgets monitored. We hope to see the youth constituency to engage with their local youth councils and ask them to work on projects that matters to them.
The three of us come from different organizations but we share the same advocacy: good governance. Karla works for Action for Economic Reforms, one of the staunchest advocates of Freedom of Information in the country. Marianne is the country's focal person for the Open Government Partnership implementation. I work for Bantay Kita, an advocate for transparency and accountability in the mining, oil and gas industries. Coming up with a project like Project TASK came natural to us.
We have so much in store. This is just the beginning. Here's to Project TASK and a future where SKs make a difference in their communities.