Social Watch urges Bicam to approve ₱9.2 billion proposed budget for child protection
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·DECEMBER 3, 2020
To ensure Filipino children are protected from a wide array of abuse and exploitation, local budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines (SWP) is proposing a total of ₱9.2 billion for child protection in key government agencies’ proposed allocations.
“We are calling the Bicam to be proactive in pushing for more responsive budgeting for child protection in the 2021 national budget, by considering our alternative budget proposals in key departments and agencies working for the rights and welfare of children.” the SWP said.
This is the call of SWP amid the on-going bicameral conference committee or the Bicam proceedings of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Citing the 2016 survey by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and UNICEF in which three out of five Filipino children being physically and psychologically abused and bullied, and almost one in five being sexually violated, the group is pushing for a more aggressive funding for child protection.
For the budget allocation of the Department of Education (DepEd), the group is proposing an additional ₱165 million to the budget of the Child Protection Program.
“The additional ₱165 million corresponds to the second-tier budget proposal of Strengthening the Child Protection Mechanisms in Schools, Cybersafety in Schools, Positive Discipline Training for Teachers, Bullying Prevention, Child online safeguarding, and staff support,” the group said, adding that “we believe that the additional budget will effectively protect school children from harm and abuse in schools.”
To note, the SWP lauds the recent move of the Senate, restoring the ₱100 million budget for a Special Provision on Instructional Materials for Learners with Disabilities, which was dropped from the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP). The group is appealing to the Bicam to adopt this to the reconciled version of the 2021 budget bill.
According to the group, “the true principle of equity must guide the distribution of instructional and learning materials and ensure that no one is left behind, guaranteeing provisions of quality support for learners with disabilities so that they could enjoy all educational rights on equal footing with their non-impaired peers.”
Under the Last Mile Schools Program, the SWP is proposing an additional ₱100 million budget for ensuring child-friendly infrastructure in the Last Mile Schools that includes the proper ratio of safe toilets for girls, boys, and learners with disabilities, and other related infrastructure requirements. “The proposal also includes an e-library for child rights and child protection materials (intranet) and the provision of Alternative Learning System (ALS) modules on Child’s Rights, Personal Safety Lessons, and strengthening of the Child Protection Committee (CPC),” SWP said. “We likewise support the call of the DepEd to reallocate the ₱25 billion unprogrammed fund for the Learning Continuity Program to programmed appropriations”, the group added.
For the Department of Agriculture (DA), the group is proposing ₱100 million for Survey/Registry Record of industries and families employing child labor under the Agriculture and Fishery Policy Program, “to update the registry of child laborers so the national government can also include their families in the conditional cash transfer program of government and for monitoring compliance purposes under DOLE’s Department Order No. 149-A s. 2017,” the group explained.
For the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), SWP is requesting a bigger ₱40 million budget under Social Marketing Services to radically improve this program which currently only provides information on the services and achievements of the DSWD.
“The DSWD should work with other branches of the agency to promote a child protection orientation in the public mind, and for a starter should develop and disseminate materials in print and social media on child protection, positive discipline in the home, the prevention of child labor and the sexual and commercial exploitation of children, and others,” the group explained.
The SWP also supports the additional allocation for the Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The DOLE-Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns has an original additional budget proposal for CLPEP profiling, referral, and monitoring of child laborers, inter-agency collaboration, and advocacy activities amounting to P292.3 million, and provision of ₱hP20,000 livelihood assistance to each 61,677 beneficiary-parents of child laborers, totalling ₱1.234 billion.
The 2011 ILO-NSO Survey on Children found that 3.312 million children or 12.4 percent of the total number of children ages 5-17 were recorded to be working, with 2.097 million considered child labor. Of those engaged in child labor, 97.7 percent or 2.049 million are in hazardous conditions.
“It is important for the DOLE to continue profiling child workers and remove them from child employment, especially as children are more vulnerable amid COVID-19”, the SWP said
Previously, the group has observed that the increase in the budget for child protection has been dismal from 2010 up to 2020. It noted that in 2010 the budget for child protection was ₱1.20 billion, it went up to ₱1.55 billion in 2012. It reached ₱2.26 billion in 2014, increased minimally to ₱2.51 billion in 2016, and improved at ₱5.28 billion in 2018. It tapered down in 2019 at ₱3.68 billion and slightly improved in 2020 with ₱3.73 billion. ###
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Social Watch Philippines (SWP), is a network of a hundred civil society organizations advocating for transparent, efficient, accountable and pro-poor use of public funds.
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