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Youth as lawmakers? why not, says Vargas

To ensure that the voices of young Filipinos are heard in the national legislative process, a lawmaker has called for the institutionalization of a Youth Legislators Program.

In House Bill 6278, Vargas said the participation and representation of the youth is of utmost importance in the Philippine bureaucracy.

“Including the youth in the highest policy-making body of the country will give them the opportunity to participate in decision-making on policies involving them and their responsibility to represent their sector in policy-making bodies,” said Vargas.

Under the proposed “Youth Legislators Program Act,” a body comprised of the youth shall convene regularly for a period immediately following the assumption of office of senators and district representatives, to propose bills and resolutions to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The body shall be called the Youth Legislature.

The bill said that it shall approve proposals for bills and resolutions in the same manner the House of Representatives and the Senate adopt bills and resolutions. The approved proposals shall be submitted to the House of Representatives and the Senate who may adopt the same.

There shall be one youth legislator for every legislative district who shall report to the House of Representatives and 24 youth legislators to report to the Senate. They shall be elected from a pool of applicant through written or oral examinations to be conducted by the National Youth Commission (NYC), the bill added.

In order to qualify, the measure said that the youth legislator shall be at least 15 but not more than 24 years old, a resident of the legislative district he/she is representing if reporting to the House of Representatives or a resident of the Philippines if reporting to the Senate.

Under the measure, a youth legislator shall propose bills and resolutions to be presented to the Youth Legislature for approval, and participate in the deliberations of the body on the proposals, observe sessions, public hearings and other hearings of the House of Representatives or the Senate and attend trainings, seminars, orientations organized by the NYC.

A youth legislator shall be entitled to a daily honorarium for a period of two weeks equivalent to 75 percent of the minimum wage in Metro Manila.