SWP urges Congress to pass DepEd’s 2021 supplemental budget for child protection
SOCIALWATCH PHILS, OCTOBER 19, 2020
Alarmed with a sudden surge in the online sexual exploitation of children during the enhanced quarantine, the Social Watch Philippines (SWP) is urging Congress to approve the 2021 Tier 2 budget for the Child Protection Program of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Reports of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in the country during the COVID-19 quarantine from March 1 to May 24, 2020 climbed to 279,166 cases as recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The number of cases represents a spike of 260 percent of OSAEC compared with only 76,561 cases in the same period in 2019.
“The DepEd proposed Php165 million to bolster the child protection program next year, but only Php4.58 million was approved in the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP). This represents an increase of merely Php81,000 from the 2020 budget, and a budget cut of almost a half from its 2019 budget levels,” the SWP said.
Out of the DepEd’s Tier2 or new spending proposal for 2021, positive discipline for teachers is taking the biggest chunk—Php83 million, or 50 percent of the proposed 165 million, covering all regions except BARMM. This includes fund support to the DepEd’s Regions and Divisions in conducting trainings for school personnel on positive discipline to reduce the incidence of corporal punishment to discipline learners.
The strengthening of child protection mechanisms in schools follows with Php51 million, or 31 percent of the proposed budget.
On the other hand, cyber safety in schools has proposed allocation of Php 20 million, bullying prevention and response with Php4 million, while the child online safeguarding policy was allocated Php 4 million.
“Violence against children is a continuing menace, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further deteriorated the already dire situation,” the SWP said.
In August, the public spending watchdog already warned that the perpetrators were also quarantined along with the children, and OSAEC will surge as more people are staying more at home.
Under the Tier 1 and 2 Proposals, DepEd is strengthening its Child Protection in Education program. The program aims to ensure that all learners are protected from violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect, discrimination, and other forms of maltreatment.
To recall, the SWP conducted a study on public investment in children in 2016 and found out, among other things, that allocation for child-focused budget has been dismal, and particularly the budget for child protection.
“Our years of advocacy in the public development and budgeting show that child protection has been getting negligible budget for many years now and this has to stop,” the SWP concluded. ##
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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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