The Puerto Princesa City Council is asking the Commission on Audit (COA) to issue the accounting and auditing guidelines on the use of funds of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) “to clearly determine the boundaries and limits of how youth officials can implement their programs.”
Councilor Myka Mabelle Magbanua, president of the SK Federation in Puerto Princesa City, said Monday that COA should immediately release the guidelines for the SK’s fiscal autonomy to take place.
“The beauty of the SK Reform Act is about the fiscal autonomy ng SK from the barangay council. Hindi naman siya nahiwalay sa barangay, pero in terms of financial transactions, dapat sarili na ni SK. Pero as of the moment hindi nangyayari ‘yon. May mga times na hindi nakakapag-implement o execute ng programs and projects si SK dahil hindi sila magkasundo ni kap o ilan sa mga barangay kagawad, maraming times na ganoon ‘yong nangyayari,” Magbanua pointed out.
She said the guidelines from the state audit agency will help the SK have “an independent structure from its own barangay council in terms of financial matters or project implementations that require monetary releases.”
Magbanua pointed out that since the SK Reform Act became law in January 2016, the COA has not yet released the guidelines on fund use.
“Hanggang ngayon wala pa din… we are ready with the requirements para maglipat ng pondo, we are ready with the requirements para mabigyan ng bond si SK chairman at SK treasurer natin. The only thing [na lang] is reporting about the specific guidelines kung papaano iha-handle ‘yong pera. Sabi nga namin it is almost kamukha ng sa barangay level na mga transactions, but bakit anong nangyari parang kokopyahin nalang naman nila (COA) ‘yon at papalitan ng SK, ang tagal, ang tagal talaga,” she said.
Magbanua said she expects the COA will release the guidelines on April 26 in Baguio City, the venue of the National SK Convention organized by the National Youth Commission (NYC).
Magbanua said she has received information that in other areas in the Philippines, funds have been transferred already to the officials of their SK.
“Pag-upo na pag-upo natin we have consulted, [and had a] lot of conversation sa COA hindi lang dito sa city. We have a lot of conversations sa National COA natin pati ‘yong team na gumagawa mismo ng mga guidelines for the operations of the government. Ang problema kasi doon, first na usap natin sa kanila ang pangako ay Agosto 2018. Second na usap natin sa kanila ay Disyembre 2018. Next na usap natin masyado ata silang na-pressure nag-labas sila ng guidelines noong January 2019, pero hindi kasama si COA, ‘yong ibang mga offices lang… na-pressure sila, si COA hindi pa rin na-pressure. Ang pangako nila January 2019, February 2019, [pero] hanggang ngayon wala pa din,” she said.
Magbanua also said that while she understands that the COA only wants “a polished guideline” it should release the guidelines as soon as possible “because the youth officials want to implement their programs and projects.”