Deputy Speaker Calls for Basic Services, Better Opportunities and Improved Protection for All Filipino Children

Photo courtesy of the Office of Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines — Three-term Senator and Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda emphasized that providing Filipino families with basic services and better opportunities will give every Filipino child a brighter and safer future.

“Let no child be deprived of the opportunity to learn, develop and grow in a safe and protective environment. Let us allow them to be part of the country’s commitment to inclusive growth and recovery,” Legarda said.

According to UNICEF, the restrictions of movement and the lack of income sources for most families have increased the likelihood of children becoming more at risk for physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home. The need to use digital platforms for children’s learning has also given them more exposure to cyberviolence and sexual exploitation, sometimes even perpetrated by their own parents and family members.

As a co-author of Republic Act No. 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, Legarda affirmed this, saying, “Movement restrictions and economic insecurity due to loss of livelihood and income, among many others, have exposed some children to an abusive and exploitative environment amid the pandemic. As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to keep them safe and give them a life free from abuse and violence.”

“As public servants, our duty is to provide long-term solutions to address the needs of our people and enable them to cope with the challenges brought about by the pandemic. We have to give every Filipino, especially the marginalized and vulnerable sectors, adequate resources and means to support them and the needs of their families.”

Through a program called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), aside from the cash aid provided, Filipino children now have the opportunity to finish their studies since tertiary education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and state-run technical-vocational institutions (TVIs) for free as mandated by Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which she co-authored and co-sponsored.

The law also states that Tertiary Education Subsidy will also be provided for qualified students in private higher education institutions.

Through the Universal Health Care Act or R.A. no. 11223, all Filipinos are automatically enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program, which guarantees equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare services and protection against financial risk.

Legarda, as the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, supported and funded various government programs that provide livelihood opportunities. These programs are the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP); the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) TUPAD, Pangkabuhayan and Government Internship Program (GIP); the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) and Small Business Corporation’s ‘Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso’ under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); and TESDA trainings and scholarships

“Our children are the builders of the nation and the future of the country. We have to strengthen our commitment to safeguarding their rights and welfare by empowering their families to recover from the health and economic crisis. By doing so, we are not just uplifting a family from poverty, but we are also saving our children from the nightmare of abuse, violence, and deprivation, allowing them to live a brighter future,” Legarda concluded.

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