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Social Watch calls for open bicam to guarantee child protection funds

/ 10:14 PM December 08, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Social Watch Philippines (SWP) on Wednesday called for open bicameral conference proceedings to ensure transparency and accountability on fund allocation for child protection in the 2022 national budget.

In a statement, Social Watch, an international network of citizens’ organizations that aim to eradicate poverty and to ensure the realization of human rights, said that the commitment from the Senate and the House of Representatives during committee deliberations is just “winning half of the battle.”

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“While we welcome child protection commitments from both chambers during the committee and plenary deliberations of the 2022 National Budget, this is only winning half of the battle. The legislative branch can genuinely fulfill them by seeing the PhP6 billion worth funds’ in the General Appropriations Act,” the group said in a statement.

The Senate and the House of Representatives started on Monday their bicameral deliberations on the proposed P5.024 trillion national budget for 2022 where they will reconcile the differences between their approved budget proposals.

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Social Watch noted that “traditionally, the bicam sessions are held behind closed doors, which is why it earned a ‘not so transparent’ reputation.”

“As such, this is where ‘horse trading’ usually occurs between both chambers, thus, leaving behind the meaningful wins gained during the committee and plenary deliberations of both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” the organization said.

The group noted that even before the pandemic, abuses against children “puts them at a greater risk of having a bleak future if the government does not do its job to protect them.”

“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. This is the reason why, amid the increasing violence against children at home or even at school, SWP pushes for more aggressive funding for child protection,” they added.

“Also in this proposal, we have allocated alternative funding to address the problems of child labor in the country as a response to the government’s revised goal in the Philippine Development Plan to eradicate child labor by next year,” SWP said.

The P6 billion budget for child protection proposed by SWP is divided into the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The organization proposes allocating additional budget for the plantilla staff positions of Women and Children Protection Units in seven DOH hospitals, as well as more funding for DepEd’s Child Protection Program and DOLE’s profiling and monitoring of child laborers and livelihood assistance to parents to reduce the incidence of child labor.

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TAGS: 2022 budget, Bicameral conference, child rights, Children, open bicam, Social Watch, Social Watch Philippines
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