Around 131 youth development focal persons, composed of officers from various national and regional government offices met to combine and harmonize all the Regional Action Plans for the youth during the 2nd Regional Youth Advisory Council (RYAC) National Convention in Casa Pilar Beach Resort, Boracay, Malay, Aklan from March 30 to April 1, 2016.

The activity aimed at setting the direction of youth development in the country. “This is an important event for National Youth Commission (NYC). We don’t just consider our youth focal persons as force multipliers, but rather our champions in the pursuit of a holistic local youth development,” said NYC Chairperson Gio Tingson in his keynote message.

One major agenda discussed during the 3-day gathering was the recently passed SK Reform Act and upcoming crafting of the Philippine Youth Development Plan (PYDP) 2017-2022. PYDP serves as the country’s blueprint for youth development.

Commissioner Earl Saavedra presented the RYAC 2016 National Convention objectives as follows: 1.)To be an venue to build a collective agenda on a common thrust that would address youth development among stakeholders; 2.) To harmonize efforts among RYAC-Member Agencies, Youth Organizations and Non-Government Organizations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that would address youth development; 3.) To consolidate national and regional strategies that shall address the objectives of the Regional Advisory Council; 4.) To draw mechanism in the final implementation phase of the Philippine Youth Development Plan (PYDP 2011-2016) addressing monitoring and evaluation scheme among stakeholders; and 5.) To adhere all Youth Programs, Advocacies and Policies with NYC’s focus thrusts which are the Philippine Youth Development Plan and Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 (otherwise known as RA 10742).”

Consequently, Commissioner JP Penol presented and discussed the Sangguniang Kabataan Law (RA 10742 or An Act Establishing Reforms in the Sangguniang Kabataan Creating Enabling Mechanisms for Meaningful Youth Participation in Nation-Building, and Other Purposes), which was signed into law by President Aquino on January 15, 2016.

Among its salient provisions include the following: 1.) Age Expansion; 2.) Anti-political Dynasty; 3.) Creation of Local Youth Development Councils; 4.) Fiscal Autonomy or Financial Independence & 5.)Mandatory Trainings for SK officials.

“This is not just a legacy of the National Youth Commission. This is not just a legacy of those people who participated in the debates and hearings. But this is the legacy of this generation. The young people have their voice, and it deserves to be heard,” said Commissioner Penol.

Moreover, Chairman Gio Tingson talked about youth in transition, our country’s big potential, and how young people can break the status quo. “The year 2016 is a year in transition: there is the ASEAN integration, the Philippine elections, a review of the MDGs and crafting of the SDGs. Youth can be an economic growth potential provided, they have the right kind of policy environment, prioritizing investment in services, policy, time, effort, energy of people in the government and other organizations. With the opportunity given to the youth today, resources should be harnessed in a way that could maximize the impact for the development of the country,” said Chairperson Tingson.

During the workshop, participants were grouped per region and discussed the pressing youth issues and gaps, and agreed on RYAC interventions. Among the RYAC interventions are: 1.) SK Law integration in the Araling Panlipunan curriculum; 2.) Career guidance intensification in senior high schools (SHS); 3.) Enrolment of SHS; 4.) SK Law information dissemination to out-of-school youths; and 5.) Convergence/collaboration with other agencies on youth development programs. As a policy-making body, NEDA is expected to endorse/support resolutions on youth-related initiatives that may be submitted /passed by lead agencies. Likewise, the group provided comments and recommendations to the PYDP Policy Direction and RA 10742 SK Reform Act of 2015.

The RYAC is the regional counterpart of the National Advisory Council which was created by virtue of Republic Act 8044, otherwise known as the “Youth in Nation Building Act of 1995.” It is composed of regional agencies and youth organization and was established primarily to localize the implementation of policies and coordination and monitoring of programs in the regional level.

RYACs in particular, have been vital to the success of the Philippine Youth Development Plan (PYDP) by making sure that the strategies outlined in the plan are included and mainstreamed in the programs and projects of the regional agencies and youth organizations.

For more than 15 years, the Regional Youth Advisory Councils (RYACs) have played a pivotal role in the successful implementation of NYC programs and projects