SocialWatch PH calls on President Duterte to pass allocation for children in 2019 Budget | SWP Press Release 28 Mar 2019
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2019
Social Watch Philippines calls on President Duterte to pass allocation for children in 2019 Budget
Social Watch Philippines (SWP), a network of over a hundred civil society organizations advocating for transparent, efficient, accountable and pro-poor utilization of public funds in the annual budget, welcomes the resolution of the prolonged standoff on the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 budget which has spilled over through the first three months of the current fiscal year.
SWP notes, however, that there are serious reservations taken by the Senate leadership concerning the unconstitutional provisions incorporated in the budget. With this development, we urge President Rodrigo Duterte to approve the proposed budget without further delay, affirming the allocations on social protection and environment management, and to hold in abeyance the questionable insertions until a transparent and critical review is undertaken. SWP Co-Convenor Rene Raya further said, “the President should now sign the 2019 budget with the budget increase for child and other protection measures intact.”
Having an approved budget by April “will prevent the further adverse impact in the delivery of urgent social services to the Filipino people”, Raya added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III announced on Tuesday that he has signed the enrolled copy of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) but with “strong reservations” due to the contestable House of Representatives-proposed provisions which it incorporated after the budget bill was already ratified last February 8. The Senate then promptly transmitted the bill to the Office of the President for final approval and enactment.
Through SWP’s legislative budget engagement with the Senate and the Bicameral conference committee (Bicam), Raya explained that some of our proposed amendments containing alternative budget allocations under the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have been adopted in the ratified Bicam report on the 2019 budget.
According to the Bicam report and our correspondence with the concerned agencies, Bicam-approved allocations include P25 million for Quality Teacher and Development Program; P50 million for textbooks and other instructional materials for children with disabilities, additional P1 billion for DepEd’s School-based Feeding Program; P102 million for data interconnectivity of the Computerization program; P85 million augmentation of the child labor elimination program and P2.352 million for pollution laboratories in Visayas and Mindanao under the Environmental Management Bureau.
“With the Senate and the House of Representatives responding to our call for public investment in children, we hope that the President puts his stamp on the 2019 budget by ensuring civil society-led budget proposals that will put forward the best interest of the child are integrated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA),” Raya appealed.
The 2015 National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children (NBS-VAC) revealed that an alarming majority of children and youth experienced some form of violence in their lifetime, whether in the home, school, workplace or community.
“There is an urgent need to address all forms of violence against students in schools and children in distressing working conditions in a responsive and effective manner”, SWP Co-Convenor Rene Raya stressed. SWP’s child-focused alternative budget aims to equip public school teachers on child rights, inclusion and positive discipline in everyday teaching to protect school children from violence. Adequate funding for the profiling of child workers will be crucial in crafting appropriate interventions to lift them out of hazardous work and all of the worst forms of child labor.
For SWP’s education cluster, Professor Flora Arellano, the President of the Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net Philippines) mentioned that more children will benefit from the proposed budget increase. “We are optimistic that the additional allocation for school children to stay healthy and nourished and have access to the internet for research purposes. Transitioning to full inclusive education will start with children with disabilities acquiring access to Filipino Sign Language, individual learner material needs and the establishment of learning resource centers,” Arellano said.
“Responsive and effective child rights programs hinge on a firm policy commitment with adequate and sustained funding allocation in the national budget. We are hopeful that this administration will work for the sustained public investment for children, especially on child protection. We trust that the President will take affirmative action by ensuring adequate funding to protect and fulfill the rights of the child”, Raya said in closing. ###
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) is a network of over a hundred civil society organizations and individuals engaged in research and lobby efforts in holding the government accountable for the fulfillment of national, regional and international commitments to eradicate poverty and carry out social, economic, and gender justice. SWP promotes people-centered sustainable development by proactively monitoring the progress and delivery of social commitments forged by the government and influencing the outcomes of policy decisions through citizen's participation in public finance.
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