Improving the youth sector in terms of political representation, education and employment has been a key legislative priority of lawmakers in the Philippine Senate as seen in the youth-centric measures it had passed, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Speaking at the 6th Forum of Young Parliamentarians in Belgrade, Serbia, Villanueva shared to the body of how the Philippine Senate legislated the laws reforming the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), instituting the free tuition program for tertiary education and implementing free government-issued documents for first-time job seekers, measures designed to uplift the youth of the country.

“We explained how these laws impact the youth.

“We explained how these laws impact the youth from the importance of engaging the youth in advocating their causes in the smallest unit of governance in the country which is the barangay, to giving quality education and enabling graduates and out-of-school youth to have a better shot at employment by waiving fees on government-issued documents,” said the veteran legislator, who chaired the Senate Committee on Youth in the 17th Congress.

“We shared our experience as a young lawmaker.”

“We are humbled by the opportunity to impart to our fellow parliamentarians some of the notable laws we passed in the previous Congress that improve our youth sector as we shared our experience as a young lawmaker,” added the senator, who started his legislation work as a party-list representative at the age of 25.

After the forum’s assembly on Oct. 14, parliamentarians approached the seasoned lawmaker, who attended the session with Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian and Juan Edgardo Angara, to seek out more information on the laws.

The Filipino lawmakers, who formed the Seatmates bloc in the Upper Chamber together with Senator Nancy Binay, represented the country in the young parliamentarians’ forum, which is part of the four-day general assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held at the picturesque Serbian capital.

Villanueva shared insights into the First-time Jobseekers Act, or Republic Act No. 11261, which waives government fees and charges on documents needed by first-time jobseekers for their employment.

Under the law, which he shepherded through the legislative mill as chair of the Senate labor committee, individuals who seek employment for the first time will be able to secure identification documents and clearances issued by the government for free.

These include police and barangay clearance, medical certificates from government clinics and hospitals, NBI certificate, birth and/or marriage certificates, tax identification number (TIN), transcript of records from SUCs, and Unified Multi-Purpose ID card (UMID), among other government documents that may be required by employers.

Meanwhile, Villanueva also shared the impact of the free tuition law–formally called in Republic Act No. 10931 as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act–in improving the access of millions of Filipino youth to state higher educational and technical-vocational institutions.

Among the changes in the SK reform law or Republic Act No. 10742 is the expanded age bracket of the elected representatives from 15 to 17 years old to 18 to 24 years old. The measure also prevents youth council appointments of individuals who are related to incumbent elected or appointive officials up to the second degree of affinity or consanguinity.

According to the IPU website, the young parliamentarians’ forum was created in 2013 to “spearhead our work to boost the participation of young people in parliaments and to help ensure young MPs play a full part in the work of parliament.”


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