By Prof. Sofronio “Toti” Dulay, DPA student, UP NCPAG
Child welfare is within the context of social development. Vague and confused as a concept, social development can be defined as “the enhancement of well being and the progressive enrichment of the quality of people’s lives” Social development is a component of overall development concept. In the Philippine experience, social development has been a major concern – often times handled by the Office of the President or made into a full – blown department with names changing from administration to administration.
Women and child health care are intertwined – what is good for the mother is also good for her child. Civilizations took care of their children, yet, the concern for women has been a late development even among the presumed civilized countries in the world. “The British traced their democracy to the signing of Magna Carta in 1215, which led to the development of their parliament. Indeed, up to 1911, the hereditary noblemen in the House of Lords had as much power as the people’s representatives in the House of Commons. Women got the vote only in 1928. And extra votes for Oxbridge University graduates and businessmen were abolished only in 1948. The United States declared independence in 1776. In 1788, the constitution gave the vote only to those who paid property tax or poll tax, which meant, the well – to-do. There were barriers of age, color and sex. In 1860, income and property qualifications were abolished, but other barriers like literacy tests and poll taxes discriminated against blacks and other disadvantage groups. In 1920, women got their vote.” In Singapore for instance, “women enjoy the same legal rights as men in most areas, and many are well – educated professionals. Yet relatively few women hold top positions in government and in the private sector.”
Good governments are concern about child health care. Lee Kuan Yew, for instance may not have his sole focus on child health care but by focusing on good governance, he was setting the necessary environment for women and children concerns. He said that “as an Asian of Chinese cultural background, my values are for government which is honest, effective and efficient in protecting its people, and allowing opportunities for all to advance themselves in a stable and orderly society, where they can live a good life and raise their children to do better than themselves. In other words: people are well cared for, their food, housing, employment, health; good and ever improving education,” among others. Yet, in Singapore, there are events that could hinder children’s welfare in general in some sectors. One of them is racial discrimination. “Despite government efforts, ethnic Malays have not on average reached the schooling and income levels of ethnic Chinese or ethnic Indians and they reportedly face discriminations in private – sector employment.” Another concern is on the area of workers condition. “Singapore’s 160,000 domestic workers are excluded from the Employment Act and regularly exploited. A 2006 standard contract for migrant domestic workers addresses food deprivation and entitles replaced workers to seek other employment in Singapore, but it fails to provide other basic protections, such as rest days.”
Social development or even child welfare has to contend with the other concerns of the state, like defense for instance. “Social policy making must be seen as a political process. It has already been stressed that social policy cannot be analyzed on its own, without referring to other activities of the state.” Also, it must be realized that social development is always a work in progress because it “involves a process of change which is fostered through a deliberate human action.” Social development is dynamic – which partially explain for instance why in the Philippines, the Council for the Welfare of Children has been passed on through times like ping pong balls from the Office of the President to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Vague as it is – couple with dynamism – social development must be defined using different perspectives. The United Nations Center for Regional Development defined social development as a “sectoral development and the provision of social services involving the improvement of the quality of life of the people through education, employment, health, housing, social welfare, agrarian reform, community development or disaster welfare.” Take note that this 1983 definition from UN does not carry children’s welfare in it. In the same UN article however, a slightly different perspective of social development is defined as “supportive of and providing services for those in special needs and involving the development of, and provision of services to women, children and disadvantaged group” This definition seems to put children’s welfare as an after thought concern – not in the mainstream.
There are also perspectives that say social development is nothing but providing welfare dole outs to the constituencies, which seems to be the prevailing thinking of most LGUs in the Philippines.
Benchmarking the Concept on International Conventions
It is in these multi perspective concepts that this paper seeks to approach the early child care and development (ECCD) experiences in Singapore and Marikina. The best way to handle a concept is to have a benchmark. In this case, the best benchmark for ECCD is the globally prevailing document – the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).In the unofficial summary of the main provisions of the CRC, its “preamble recalls the basic principles of the United Nations and specific provisions of certain relevant human rights treaties and proclamations. It reaffirms the fact that children, because of their vulnerability, need special care and protection, and it places special emphasis on the primary caring and protective responsibility of the family. It also reaffirms the need for legal and other protection of the child before and after birth, the importance of respect for the cultural values of the child’s community, and the vital role of international cooperation in securing children’s right”
The CRC defined a child as a person under 18, unless the national laws recognize a country – specific age of majority. It encourages positive actions for non – discrimination on children and the government should always pursue the best interest of the child. It said that the state must implement the rights of the child. It must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to provide guidance for the child. The child has the right to life, name and nationality; and identity. The child has the right to live with his or her parents. Parents and children have the right for reunification. The state shall safeguard the children’s right to have their own opinion, freedom of though, conscience, religion and association. The privacy of children must be provided and the state shall ensure the accessibility of children to information. It is the responsibility of parents to raise the child but the state shall provide assistance to the parents. The child must be protected from abuse and neglect and the states should protect children without families. The convention recognizes adoption. Special care should be given to refugee children, children of minorities and disabled children. The child has the right to the highest standard of health, medical care attendance and social security. They have the right to adequate standard of living and education. The child has the right to be protected from child labor, drug abuse, sexual exploitation, sale, trafficking, abduction and other forms of exploitation. The child has the right to be protected from torture and deprivation of liberty. The state shall take measures that children below 15 years of age has no direct part in hostilities. Rehabilitation and proper handling of victimized children as well as those in conflict with the law should be ensured. The state is obligated to inform the public of the CRC and they have to submit reports, which must also be available to the public.
With this backdrop and taking into account that the Philippines is a signatory to the CRC, it is now clear that children’s welfare is a big responsibility for the LGUs.
Another important document that articulated for the welfare of children is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “The Millennium Development Goals are the world’s time – bound and quantitative targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions – income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion – while promoting gender equality, equality, education, and environmental sustainability.” There are basically eight MDGs, namely, eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability; and, develop global partnership for development. The MDGs have 8 goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators. I had the opportunity to report this topic in a doctoral class and we counted how many of these goals, targets and indicators pertains to children. The conclusion of the class is that out of 8 MDGs, only 1, the goal number seven (ensure environmental sustainability) has no direct provision about children’s welfare. But then, it is commonsensical that a good environment is beneficial to children – making the MDGs as another pro child welfare international document.
How Different is Singapore and the Philippines?
Taken from FreedomHouse, freedom in the world circa 2008 for the Philippines and Singapore, found at http://www.freedomhouse.org. , the difference of the two countries is enormous. Philippines have a population of 88,700,000 while Singapore has 4,600,000 only. Both countries are partly free but the Philippines scores better in the area of civil liberties and political rights. The Philippines was under the Spain for around 300 years, went under American control in 1998 and got its independence in 1946. The country was once one of the wealthiest in Southeast Asia but since 1960’s; it has been plagued by economic mismanagement, insurgencies and widespread corruption. Singapore started as a British trading center in 1819 and eventually become a British colony. It become independent in 1959, joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 and gained full independence in 1965. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) transformed the poor city into a regional financial center and exporter of high – technology goods, but restricted individual freedoms and hindered political development in the process. The Philippines has a presidential system, almost similar to America. Singapore has a parliamentary system similar to Great Britain. In the Philippines, corruption, cronyism and influence peddling are rife in business and government. Despite the recent economic reforms, a few dozen powerful families continue to play an overarching role in politics and are very wealthy. Singapore is known for lack of corruption. Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perception Index ranked the country fourth out of 180 countries surveyed
To sum it all Singapore is richer, less corrupt but less free; Philippines is freer, more corrupt and not that rich.
The Child Welfare Program of Singapore
The age of majority applicable in Singapore is 21 years old. The Women’s Charter spells out the responsibilities of parents towards the care of their children who are minors (below the age of 21 years and who is not married, or a widower or a widow). The Children and Young Persons Act provides for the care and protection of children and young persons who are below 16 years of age. The Women’s Charter accords protection to women and girls who are in moral danger or protects them against sexual exploitation regardless of age. The Employment Act adopts the same definitions as the Children and Young Persons Act for a “child” and a “young person”. Singapore prohibits the employment of children below the age of 12 years. Practically all children who are below the age of 16 years are either pursuing an education in schools or learning a skill in vocational institutions. So far, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has not received reports or complaints of children who have been exploited or forced to work in industrial undertakings (including factories). Penal Code provides that an offence of statutory rape is made out if (among other things) a man has sexual intercourse with a girl even with her consent if she is below 14 years of age. This means that a “child” below 14 years old cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse. Under the Women’s Charter, any person who has carnal connection with a girl below the age of 16 years, except by way of marriage, is guilty of an offence. The Women’s Charter governs civil marriages in Singapore. The minimum legal age of marriage in Singapore is 18 years with parental consent. A person below 18 years of age wishing to get married has to apply for a Special Marriage License from the Minister of Community Development and Sports before he/she can marry. The Smoking (Control of Advertisement and Sale of Tobacco) Act prohibits the sale or giving of tobacco products to persons under 18 years. The Poisons Act prohibits the sale of poison to persons below the age of 18.The age of criminal responsibility therefore starts at 7 years of age.
Though the age of criminal liability is 7 years, there are safeguards for children up to 12 years. A child below 14 years cannot be sentenced or ordered to be imprisoned for any offence or be committed to prison in default of payment of a fine or costs. A child offender can be committed to an Approved School or a Young Offenders Section administered by the Prisons Department if his/her behavior and character are so unruly or depraved that treatment in a juvenile facility is deemed unsuitable. In Singapore, the general age of consent for medical treatment has not been definitively stated in the legislation and case law at the moment. Parental consent may not necessarily be required if: it is a case of emergency; or the child is a case of abandonment, or when the parents cannot be located if a child is not capable of consenting; or a pregnant girl below the age of 18 years who is unmarried wishes to terminate her pregnancy. However, unmarried girls below 16 years of age seeking treatment to terminate
pregnancies have to undergo compulsory pre-abortion counseling at the Institute of Health to ensure that they are aware of the consequences of their decisions. In Singapore, the child is precious to both his or her family and the nation. The
Government places a very high premium on the education, health and protection of children so that they can realize their full potential, regardless of race, religion or socio-economic background. Constitution of Singapore guarantees all Singapore citizens including children, the right to equality and non-discrimination.
Females, who make up almost half of Singapore’s population (50 per cent of the population in 2000), are not regarded as a minority or disadvantaged group. They are given equal access to education, training, employment opportunities and health-care. Police procedure accords special consideration in the handling of children. For example, police officers avoid using force at the point of affecting an arrest. Children are separated from other offenders when detained. Investigations for cases involving children as accused persons
are expedited. Singapore considers that a child’s rights as defined in the CRC. It recognizes the family as the fundamental building block of society. In legal disputes involving families and children, it is the court’s primary responsibility to protect the interests of children. The physical set up of the Court takes into account the needs of children A Children’s Resource Centre for older children at the Family Justice Centre provides information on family cases and counseling to children. The Children and Young Persons Act has provisions which allow the removal of a child or young person to a place of safety or an approved home, or the placement of the child under the care of a fit person or the supervision of a Welfare Officer, if the parents are unable to provide adequate care for the child. Guardianship of Infants Act (GIA) states that the welfare of the child shall be the first and paramount consideration in any court proceedings involving the custody or upbringing of a person below 21 years or the administration of any property belonging to or held in trust for that child. Since 1980, the Government, through the Ministry of Community Development and Sports, has promoted and regulated the development and operation of childcare centers for children below 7 years of age, to help working parents who need alternative childcare arrangements for their pre-school children while they work. On 1 November 1989, the Government set up the National Youth Council (NYC) to coordinate youth affairs at the national level. Singapore has a good track record in child health and development and has met the targets on child health and development of the World Summit Goals for Children. This is attributed to effective and rigorous implementation of laws, services and programs which have been put in place to promote the development of children. Persons who at the time of commission of an offence are below 18 years are prohibited from being sentenced to death under the Criminal Procedure Code. Singapore has a comprehensive health-care system for children, the elements of which are as follows: there is a network of primary health clinics and hospitals (both private and public); government polyclinics provide maternal and child health care which includes child surveillance program comprising development screening and immunizations for pre-school children, health promotion activities and curative care. The Infectious Disease Act (cap. 137) provides for the quarantine and prevention of infectious diseases. The Act and its regulations require compulsory immunization of children against diphtheria and measles. Immunization is provided against tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and hepatitis B. Child immunization programs are made available to all children in Singapore through government polyclinics, the School Health Service (SHS) and private hospitals/public hospitals and private practitioners. The public sector administers 60 per cent of immunizations while the rest are carried out by the private health sector. All immunizations in polyclinics and SHS are free except for hepatitis. The public housing authority of Singapore, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), aims to provide affordable high-quality housing to residents. An HDB neighborhood park, which ranges from 0.4 to 1.5 hectares, is provided for every 5,000-6,000 dwelling units Children’s playgrounds are usually located at the precinct centre and near a childcare centre to facilitate supervision. Constitution of Singapore states (among other things) that every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression. A child’s right to express views freely in matters pertaining to the child per se is also extended to the act of abortion. Unmarried girls who are below the age of 18 years are entitled to the right of terminating a pregnancy without seeking parental consent The Government encourages feedback on policies and issues from students through various activities and programs organized by the Ministry of Education and other bodies. There are locally produced children’s programs which elicit comments from children and youth on national issues or matters directly affecting them. Singapore places great importance on the well-being of the family unit. Singapore supports the principle that both parents have shared responsibility for the upbringing and development of their children. The Government actively promotes the development of Family Service Centers (FSCs), which are one-stop neighborhood-based social service centers, to support individuals and families in the community. These FSCs provide a range of services such as counseling, advice, information, referral and group work. FLE is one of their core programs. To foster a family-friendly work environment. alternative working arrangements, such as part-time work, contract work, flexible work arrangements, home-based tele-commuting and understanding the occasional need to attend to family emergencies are encouraged among employers. The Government also encourages the development of childcare centres12 as well as student care centers (or before-and-after school
care centres13) to cater to the childcare needs of working parents. Through the provision of such facilities and emphasis on family life, the Government hopes to alleviate the burden of working parents, help couples balance work and family life, and support parents in their parenting roles. The Children and Young Persons Act provides for the removal of abused children to a place of safety even before they can be brought before a court for the making of an order for
their care and custody. The Children and Young Persons Act provides for the care of children in need of care and protection and who are destitute. A destitute child can be placed for adoption to willing parties after the assessment of the latter’s suitability through social investigation and contact. The Ministry of Community Development and Sports has had a Fostering Scheme since 1956 for children (including intellectually disabled children) aged 18 years and below. The
Scheme allows children deprived of parental care to be cared for in a normal home environment and within the community. The MCDS also supervises 15 children’s residential homes run by VWOs. Six are gazettes as Places of Safety, Approved Homes and/or Approved Schools under the Children and the Government provides a per capita grant for each child and free medical treatment for the children at all government hospitals and polyclinics.
The children in these homes continue to attend schools and are entitled to recreational outings and visits by parents and relatives. The Adoption of Children Act (cap. 4) governs adoption procedures in Singapore. Before the court makes an order for adoption, the court must be satisfied that the adoption order
is for the welfare of the child, with due consideration given to the wishes of the child, his age and understanding. Singapore takes a serious view of violence in any form. The Government and the community believe that no one deserves to be abused and protection will be accorded to those who are vulnerable. Child abuse is defined as any act of omission or commission by a parent or guardian which would endanger or impair the child’s physical or emotional well-being, or that is judged by a mixture of community values and professionals to be inappropriate. Sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child or young person for
sexual gratification or any sexual activities between an adult and a child.
The MCDS is the lead agency for child protection and welfare. Victims of abuse are sent for psychological intervention by a psychologist or child
psychiatrist where necessary. School authorities are mindful that the school is first and foremost a place to nurture the child to develop his/her fullest potential. Hence, in the administration of discipline, great care is given to the enforcement measures so that the pupils’ dignity and self-esteem are not eroded. Corporal punishment is meted out judiciously to errant male pupils, and even then as a
last resort, by the principal or a teacher authorized by him/her. Under no circumstances are female pupils subjected to corporal punishment. Great emphasis is placed on skills and training of personnel involved in the management of child abuse cases. The Government recognizes that public education is important to deal with child abuse and neglect and family violence and works closely with the courts, Family Service Centers, crisis shelters, and organizations like the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations (SCWO, which is the umbrella body for women organizations), the Society Against Family Violence and the Singapore’s Children’s Society, to promote awareness of child abuse and family violence. Singapore implemented the Parent Education Program in June 1985 as a preventive and developmental program to support parents in the demanding task of parenting. The cases of children placed in children’s homes, foster care or institutions are reviewed periodically by Case Review Committees in each institution. Singapore children enjoy quality, up-to-date health care that is readily accessible and affordable. The Ministry of Health (MOH) provides preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services and coordinates the planning and development of the public and private health sectors. . Government subsidy on the public health-care services was S$ 1,089 million (US$ 672). Child mortality rates have declined greatly since the 1940s. The following factors have also
contributed to the improved rates, which helped to rank Singapore as one of the best in the world in health care for children: immunization and environmental health programs which controlled infectious diseases; introduction of neonatal intensive care units at all major hospitals with obstetric practice; improved care of neonates and advances in managing premature babies; good obstetric practice and quality antenatal care (more than 99 per cent of births attended by trained personnel); provision of prenatal and post-natal care provided at primary health clinics and hospitals and special precautions taken for high-risk pregnancies, in particular near term and at the time of labor; mass screening (thyroid function and G6PD deficiency) for newborns; availability of cardiac surgery; and renal dialysis/renal and liver transplants for children with chronic renal/liver failure. The most common causes of death among children under 5 years of age are congenital anomalies, prenatal complications, complications of premature, pneumonia, heart diseases, cancer and accidental falls. The most common cancer in childhood is acute leukemia followed by brain tumors and
solid tumors. NBDR was set up by MOH in January 1993 to monitor birth defects, the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the prenatal period and early childhood in Singapore. People with disabilities have different degrees of mobility. Most can and do take public transport such as buses and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) daily. Steps have been taken by public transport operators in recent years to make their systems user-friendlier and more accessible to people with disabilities. Singapore regards the development of a barrier-free physical environment as necessary for integrating the disabled into community life. Primary, secondary, and even tertiary health-care is easily accessible. Government polyclinics and private practitioners are located all over the island and usually concentrated in new towns where the population density is high.
Preventive health care comprises health education, immunization against infectious diseases and selective health screening. Private practitioners and government polyclinics, outpatient dispensaries and childcare clinics provide primary health care in Singapore. In 1998, there were 2,489 doctors in the
private sector providing 80 per cent of primary health care. The Ministry’s Family Health Service provides the remaining 20 per cent. School Health Service (SHS) provides health surveillance, immunization and health education through its school and clinic (Student Health Centre) programs. Preventive, promotional and curative dental health services are provided through the School Dental Service, the Hospital Dental Service and the Community Dental Service. They are freely and easily accessible via the hospital dental clinics, community dental clinics, school dental clinics and multiple private dental clinics located all over the country. The Pharmaceutical Department of the Ministry of Health is responsible for ensuring the quality, safety and efficiency of pharmaceutical products sold in the market. There are 12 public sector hospitals (3 government and 9 government restructured) and 13 private hospitals which provide curative and rehabilitative care to the population. Of the 12 public sector hospitals, 6 provide acute general inpatient and specialist outpatient services and 24-hour accident and emergency services. The nutritional status of Singapore children is closely monitored from birth up to the time they leave school. During the neonatal period, breastfeeding is strongly advised and measures are taken to prevent distribution of milk samples to newborns in hospitals and government
clinics. Male circumcision is carried out for medical and religious reasons and involves the removal of the foreskin of the penis by surgical means. It is usually done in a sterile environment and in private by either a trained doctor or male nurse. Female circumcision is usually done in infancy. The procedure involves the removal of a small piece of skin from the clitoris by doctors, with sterile scissors or scalpel in a sterile environment, and in private. The first local case of HIV was diagnosed in 1985. In the first three months of 1998, another 44 Singaporeans were detected to be infected with HIV. This brought the total number of HIV-infected Singaporeans to 775 at 31 March 1998. The use of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) is widely practiced in Singapore. There are local training schools in TCM. MOH places emphasis on training for all health-care professionals to upgrade the quality of health care. Singapore’s standard in health care for its population is similar to those of advanced industrialized countries. There has been increasing budgetary allocation for the preventive aspects of reproductive health and strong preventive health and education programs with special emphasis on the well-being of mothers and children. Plans for the future include improving the quality of clinical services and professional manpower, and control of costs to patients and the Government. The Ministry of Health hopes to promote the health of Singaporeans by encouraging healthy lifestyles and preventing disease while ensuring access to good and affordable basic health care in the event of illness. Singapore places importance on the well-being of the family unit. It believes that strong, cohesive families are better able to provide a nurturing environment for the physical, emotional, mental and social development security of children and family members. The Baby Bonus and paid maternity leave for the third child are measures introduced by the Government to help address part of the financial costs of raising children. In addition, the Government has decided to implement the following work practices that
would allow its employees to support its efforts in creating a pro-family focus via a balanced work-life environment: to allow three days of paid marriage leave for the first marriage with effect from 1 October 2000; to allow three days of paternity leave for male civil servants for their first three children with effect from 1 October 2000; to allow teleporting, where practical, as an alternative working arrangement, particularly for parents with young children; and
(d) To allow individual ministries and departments to implement flexible work
arrangements, as long as there is no loss of productivity and lapse in service standards to the public. In 1984, the Government implemented a national childcare centre program to promote the development of childcare centre facilities for children up to age 7 years as part of its support. A 1997 Population Planning Section (Ministry of Health) survey on newly married couples showed that childcare availability was the second most commonly cited factor influencing the decision on family size, after finance. Hence, the Ministry of Community Development and Sports (MCDS) will increase the number of childcare places by 25 per cent over the next three years that is by about 12,000 to 58,000 places.
To support parents who use these childcare centers, the Government provides childcare subsidy to all working parents who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents, to help them defray the cost of payment of childcare fees.
The Government actively promotes the development of Family Service Centers (FSCs) to provide support service to help families and individuals in the community. FSCs are developed at major housing estates to make social services accessible and available at the neighborhood level. Singapore adopts a multi-pronged approach towards educating its people in family life. These programs are aimed mainly at promoting the well-being of the family and enhancing
family life. It is the right of the child to an adequate standard of living. The primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capabilities, the necessary living conditions for the child’s development lies with the parents or the guardians of the child. Singapore has a wide range of schemes, programs and services to help those in genuine need of assistance. The Government, voluntary welfare organizations, community groups and self-help groups run a range of financial and other support services, schemes and programs to help individuals and families. No one who is genuinely in need will be denied assistance. Special focus is placed on the welfare and well-being of children, especially children of families where parents are unable to provide adequate care for them.
The Philippines Approach to Child Welfare
After passing through some basic social development concepts and international statures, it is now time to look into Philippine national documents and see what they have to offer for children’s welfare.
The CRC and MDGs, the international statures that articulate for children’s welfare, have a great influence on Philippine national programs and legislatures that concerns children. “The Philippines now stands in a critical point in time, faced with the challenged of realizing its commitments to the CRC, the MDGs, and the WFFC goals and the vision of Child 21.The current development and context in the country present complex and difficult issues.”
The report submitted by the Philippine government, third and fourth periodic reports of States parties due in 2007, to be exact, talked about the country’s continuing review and enactment of legislations in compliance with CRC. The report identified the following legislative gaps: minimum age of criminal responsibility, minimum age of sexual consent, prohibition of torture, lack of comprehensive juvenile system, discrimination against children born out of wedlock, use of children in pornography, and corporal punishment. To work on these gaps, the country enacted the following laws: RA 9344: Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act – raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 9 to 15; RA 9208:Anti – Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 – instituted policies to eliminate trafficking, specially women and children; RA 9231: Elimination of the Worst Form of Child Labor Act of 2003; RA 9255 : An Act Allowing Illegitimate Children to Use the Surnames of their Father; RA 9262 : Anti – Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004; and, RA 9288 : New Born Screening Act of 2004.
The report said that despite all these laws, the current efforts are still inadequate. It plans to work on the remaining gaps such as: minimum age of sexual consent, child pornography, corporal punishment and other form of violence, discrimination against children born out of wedlock.
The report also said that in 2000, we formulated the Philippine National Strategic Framework for Plan Development for Children for the period 2000-2025, or Child 21, to build sensitive and child friendly society in the 21st century.
It also mentioned the role of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), the main institutional mechanism in coordinating the implementation and monitoring of NPAC/Child 21 as well as in coordinating formulation of all policies for children and monitoring CRC implementation. Take note CWC, later on this paper will figure prominently on the ECCD concerns in Marikina City.
The committee report also noted that the mandate and resources of Philippine Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) in the promotion and monitoring of children’s right is limited, and it recommends strengthening them.
As regards to the budgetary allocation for children, the report mentioned that 30% of national budget goes to debt service – interest payment with insufficient allocation for social development and children’s program. To address this, the Philippines proposed in 2005: “Debt – to –MDG Financing”, a debt reduction scheme in exchange of MDG Financing.
The country also pursued international cooperation in its quest to provide wider service to children by working with GOP-UNICEF, ILO, JICA, USAID, BEAM, QTVET, ADB, WB, Save the Children-US, Save the Children-Sweden, WVF, Consuelo Foundation, CCF, ATD Fourth World, and IJM.
The report also said that the government also pursues Cooperation with civil society in pursuing children’s welfare thru the CWC sectoral committees, inter-agency bodies on child protection other than CWC, NGO Coalition for CRC Monitoring and Philippine Inter – Faith Network for Children.
The government initiated the CRC principles/provisions of advocacy thru the CWC and UNICEF IEC campaigns, Child Info – based Knowledge Network Centers in 24 LGUs, Bright Child Campaign of CWC, CWC and Task Force on the Popularization of the CRC in 24 municipalities in central Philippines.
We also disseminated the contents of the 2nd periodic report and concluding observations when the CWC printed the report itself for dissemination, convened committee and networks to brief them of the report, and thru TV and radio interviews as well as meetings and conferences.
Finally, as part of our compliance with CRC, the country initiated the preparations for the 3rd and 4th periodic report by CWC sending letters to agencies and NGO’s to submit their inputs; convened 3 consultations; and the Technical Management Committee of CWC Board reviewing the consultation’s write up, writing comments and integrating them with the second report. The report was submitted to CWC Board for Review, preparation of the final draft and submission.
The Child Welfare Program of Marikina City
Having shown some basic concepts in social development, the international conventions related to child welfare and the Philippine national programs on children, it is now time to go to an specific LGUs like Marikina, hoping that what we will see in this city as regards to program on children’s welfare could give us insight on what is happening in other LGUs in the country.
For the interest of brevity, we will dispense with the discussion o the basic demographic data about Marikina because they are readily available by googling them in the internet.
How do you run a city like Marikina – clean, organized, international acclaimed, prosperous, peaceful and world class, with its former Mayor one of the leading presidential contenders of the country in the 2010 elections and its present Mayor one of the Top 7 finalists in the World Mayor Award? “Our City Hall is run like a private corporation. We treat our clients as our customers whom we want not only to satisfy but to delight.” – Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando.
The Marikina local government is divided into seven clusters, namely, administrative support, public order and safety, finance management and project development, infrastructure development and transportation, citizens’ affairs, economic development; and, health and environmental management.
The children’s welfare is found under the cluster of citizen’s affair, specifically, in the Social Welfare and Development Office. Aside from this office, the following are also found in the citizens’ affair cluster: Department of Education – Marikina, Public Information Office, Community Relations Office, Marikina Settlements Office, City Women Council, MCF Manpower House, Teens Health Quarter, Local Civil Registry, MCF Privilege Card and the Office of Senior Citizens Affair.
The city Social Welfare and Development Office is one - story structure called Social Action Center, detached from the main building where the Office of the Mayor is housed. In that Social Action Center, several officers are also found like: Volunteers Office, SOCO, PNP and Traffic Management.
The city Social Welfare Development Office has been devolved from DSWD to the city government of Marikina. The office was run by an OIC who is a licensed social worker. Together with the OIC, there was a Consultant directly reporting to the Mayor. The consultant is a TV producer of a child show and was a neighbor of the Mayor in her ancestral house in Pasig. The OIC eventually left the post for personal reasons and joined an entry level job at the Marikina Fiscal’s Office, the Consultant took over as the OIC then hired a 24 – year – old licensed social worker as his assistant.
The city Social Welfare Development Office is picture of a workplace that is changing often, desks are changing depending on the circumstances of the office politics, full of clients daily and perhaps, in an attempt to manage the flow of clients, a sign is posted in the door reminding the customers to whom to report regarding their needs. The post says “services offered”: referral; social case study report; medical, financial and funeral assistance; certificate of indigency, PWD, PYAP/TN; and solo parent. Then, names of concerned staff handling these services are listed .Take note that in the list, there is no specific concern for children’s welfare. The OIC and her assistant have their separate rooms, the rest of the 13 staff are together. On the adjacent room is the Children in Conflict with the Law Shelter with around 25 inmates. Based however on Marikina Citizens’ Factbook, the office has the following services: assistance in crisis situations, referrals, seminars and counseling and child – friendly intervention which handling of juvenile cases. Take note again the lack of mention of child welfare concerns and day care centers despite the fact that the city also manages around six day care centers all over the city of 16 barangays. Barangay councils for the protection of children are not active.
One Fateful Meeting at the CWC Office
In a meeting with Maria Elena S. Caraballo, Deputy Executive Director, CWC Concerns, she discussed about different LGUs who are ECCD accredited, which are only very few. She mentioned, among others that Marikina is not accredited, and being the Consultant of the Mayor of Marikina City. I was assigned by our Professor to look into it and make it as my paper; hence, this paper was written specifically due to that fateful meeting.
I arranged a meeting between Mrs. Caraballo, Mayor Fernando, City Social Welfare Development Office OIC, Tess Valentino of DSWD NCR and other members of ECCD Network in Metro Manila.
The Mayor and CWC Executive Director agreed that Marikina City government will work for the ECCD Accreditation and CWC will provide around 5 Million pesos counterpart funding for a city ECCD program. The Marikina City SWDO OIC was appointed ECCD Officer. Deadline was set, series of activities were planned.
Separate technical meetings were done to plan for data gathering, planning sessions and submission of needed requirements.
After the meeting, I intentionally did not join them anymore in their succeeding meetings because I don’t want to appear that I am interfering with the job of the Marikina City SWDO OIC, as a matter of professional courtesy, both of us being Consultants of the Mayor. Besides, since the data needed are already set, deadlines are set, forms to fill up are available; I feel that it is just a matter of doing it and I am not needed anymore.
One evening, I received a text message from Mrs. Caraballo informing me that one of the members of the multi sectoral ECCD Committee of NCR told her that the scheduled planning session for ECCD Accreditation in Marikina will not push thru and she is afraid that Marikina will never be able to catch the deadline anymore. She informed me that she is preparing a letter to the City Mayor informing her of the development.
Findings and Recommendations
1. There are some practices in Singapore that may not be applicable in the Philippines, like, abortion and female circumcision. In the meantime, Marikina’s social welfare office is not yet on the level of studying these cultural differences since it is still saddled with organizational concerns. With the frequent changes in the Marikina City SWDO, the organizational capacity to respond to a new task like ECCD Accreditation is still weak. The OIC is new and her assistant is also new. Recommendation: team building sessions and thorough job orientation.
2. It was noted that out of 13 staff, some of them are not college graduates and joined the service as a political accommodations rather than based on qualifications. Only one of them is a license social worker, the assistant of the OIC. Recommendation: professionalize the staff, assign the less qualified somewhere else and hire more social workers into the unit.
3. Staff is overloaded; there are staff members who have to work after 5 pm and during weekends. Recommendation: realignment of duties and work loads.
4. It was noted that CRC, MDGs and children’s welfare is not well advocated in the city hall and even among the Marikina City SWDO staff. Being a devolved function, SWDO is being viewed as an office that dispenses funeral and medical assistance basically. Recommendation: advocacy and information campaign about CRC, CWC, MDG and other children’s concern that the office are suppose to handle.
5. The Marikina City SWDO lacks a staff that is well - versed in planning, data gathering, and doing reports. It was learned that there are several attempts as early as 2004 to work on the ECCD Accreditation but the office simply can not do it up to now. One challenge also is the volume and nature of data being asked (See Exhibit A). Recommendation: hire another assistant, probably another social worker, whose job is to handle planning, reporting, rules compliance, accreditations, project proposal writing, data gathering and safekeeping.
6. There is a perception that a job in the Marikina City SWDO is dirty and unfashionable and the staff members of the office are not that presentable. This perception can easily lead to being unable to get data and simple favors from other offices that look at themselves as more superior. Recommendation: professionalism; a high profile children’s welfare champion from the Marikina City Hall must be groomed. The present OIC, being a Consultant and a personal friend of the Mayor is a good material for this task. She just has to get familiar with theoretical base, other issues and concerns on children’s welfare and must be passionate enough in advocating them.
7. Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPC) are not well organized. Recommendation: assign two councilors, one per district, to help the Marikina Marikina City SWDO to organize and sustain the BCPC.
8. The Marikina City SWDO had been very busy. Some staff does overtime without pay. Some work on weekends…and yet; they seem to be not so focused on children’s welfare activities. At present, only the OIC is handling the ECCD concerns, and to think that she has other activities, being a close confidante of the Mayor and therefore could be doing other activities on the side, she might end up neglecting her duties on ECCD. Recommendation: assign the ECCD work to the new assistant that will be hired.
9. Singapore, being a richer country than the Philippines, can initiate health and personnel benefit programs for its people better than the Philippines. But a further study of these programs can be done to find which of them can be done without much funding needed and therefore can be a doable benchmark for nationwide or even Marikina – wide application.
I wish to acknowledge social worker and assistant to the OIC Carolyn Sta. Maria for granting two interviews about the operations of the Marikina City SWD Office; OIC and fellow Consultant Nadeia Sarte for giving me access to her office and providing crucial data on ECCD; the members of the ECCD Network Tess Valentino, Elsie Romualdez and Lucia Bronio for their assistance in the several meetings we conducted; CWC Deputy Executive Director Ma. Elena S. Caraballo for graciously granting our invitation to meet with the Marikina City Mayor; the Marikina City Mayor Marides Fernando for her decisiveness and accommodation to meet the ECCD Network Members; and finally, to my professor Dr. Remigio D. Ocenar for giving me the opportunity to have this concern of my hometown as my paper on his subject.
1. “Trends and Patterns in Social Development Efforts of the Philippine Government”, A Reader in Philippine Social Development by Bautista (ed), Q.C.: UPCPA,
2. Understanding Social Policy. NY: Basil Blackwell Inc., Chapter 1- “What is Social Policy”
3. Social Development: the Development Perspectives in Social Welfare. London: Sage Publishing.
4. “Different Perspective on Social Development. ”Local Social Development Planning, vol.1.Japan: UNCRD,
5. The Convention on the Rights of the Child. As adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1989
6. The UN Millennium Development Goals. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/index.html
7. Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child Consideration of Reports Submitted by the State Parties under Article 44 of the Convention. September 19, 2007.
8. Marikina Citizens’ Factbook, A Guide to Key Government Services, Second Edition, 2007
9. Han Fook Wang, et al, Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas. Singapore Press Holdings: Times Edition.
10. http://www.freedomhouse.org/inc/content/pubs/fiw/inc_country_data.. March 20, 2009
 “Trends and Patterns in Social Development Efforts of the Philippine Government”, A Reader in Philippine Social Development by Bautista (ed), Q.C.:UPCPA, p.3
 Han Fook Wang, et al, Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas. Singapore Press Holdings: Times Edition. P.376
 http://www.freedomhouse.org/inc/content/pubs/fiw/inc_country_data.. March 20, 2009
 Understanding Social Policy .NY: Basil Blackwell Inc., Chapter 1- “What is Social Policy”, p.9
 Social Development: the Development Perspectives in Social Welfare. London: Sage Publishing.p.38
 “Different Perspectives on Social Development” Local Social Development Planning, vol.1.Japan:UNCRD,p.9
 The Convention on the Rights of the Child. As adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1989
 The UN Millennium Development Goals. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/index.html
 Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child Consideration of Reports Submitted by the State Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention. September 19, 2007.
 Marikina Citizens’ Factbook, A Guide to Key Government Services, Second Edition,2007