Senate urged to allocate P6B for child protection programs

Social Watch Philippines (SWP) urges the Senate to include a total of PhP6.023 billion budget for priority child protection programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) in the General Appropriations Bill.

According to a recent study commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2020. There had been a 20 percent increase in domestic violence globally and, at the same time, the study approximates that intimate partner violence will increase by 16 percent in the Philippines.

“If this is the case for intimate partners, we can only deduce that children who are in the same environment will most likely be a victim of abuse themselves. It is unhealthy for children to grow up exposed to violence as these can lead to mental, psychological, emotional and physical wounding which they can carry with them for the rest of their lives,” SWP Co-Convenor Maria Victoria Raquiza expressed.

The Women and Children Protection Units (WCPU), despite the many challenges of this pandemic, was able to address the heightened need for their services. It was at the time of lockdowns last 2020 that most women and children stayed home.

“This was the time when the call, ‘stay home, stay safe’ did not hold true for victims of abuse because the home was no longer a safe space for them. And to top that the stress of unemployment and loss of income become the excuse for committing violence against family members. Sad but true,” Raquiza explained.

From January to June 2020, WCPU responded to 3,368 cases of child abuse and 879 cases of abuse against women. By the end of 2020, a total of 6,926 children were served by the WCPUs. About 52% of which were child sexual abuse cases.

The PhP6.023 billion budget proposal is divided into three key agencies: Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

For the DOH, the SWP proposes to allocate a budget amounting to PhP22,254 million for the plantilla staffing positions for Women and Children Protection Units of seven (7) DOH hospitals.

For the DepEd, the budget proposal is to allocate PhP 22.145 million to the agency’s Child Protection Program budget line item. The proposed budget will fund the DepEd Child Protection Unit planning, strategizing and monitoring of the implementation of the child protection policy, capability building of teachers and child protection committees, conduct of research and data management and strengthening child protection reporting and referral mechanism of schools.

Meanwhile, the DOLE needs an additional funding of about PhP171 million for profiling and monitoring of child laborers and PhP800.64 million for livelihood assistance to parents or guardians of child workers to be closer to the reality of child-labor free Philippines by 2022.

In a previous statement, SWP asked the Senate to consider utilizing PhP407 billion worth of questionable budgets as a source of reallocation for CSO-crafted alternative budget proposals in the proposed 2022 national budget.