Press Release
January 31, 2019

Drilon bats for P2.5-B budget for Bahay Pag-asa

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday proposed additional P2.5 billion to the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the construction and maintenance of rehabilitation center facilities for children in conflict with the law.

"This is to propose the inclusion of P2.5 billion capital outlay and MOOE (Miscellaneous and Other Operating Expense) allocations for the establishment and operation of Bahay Pag-asa Center under the Department of Social Welfare and Development budget in the Bicameral Committee Report of the 2019 National Budget," Drilon said in a letter to Senate Committee on Finance chair Loren Legarda.

Drilon emphasized the need for the construction operation, and maintenance of Bahay Pag-asa center nationwide after it was found out that only 55 Bahay Pag-asa centers have been constructed since Republic Act 9344 was enacted. Of the 55 rehabilitation centers, less than half are operational.

"The law is reformative in nature and to achieve its objective, it requires the establishment of Bahay Pag-asa in all provinces and urbanized and chartered cities in the country," Drilon said.

However, it was found out that there is zero budget under the proposed 2019 spending outlay currently being heard at the bicameral conference committee for the construction of youth rehabilitation centers, noted Drilon.

The construction and maintenance of Bahay Pag-asa, according to Drilon, is left to local government units, which failed in their obligations under the law.

"We need to provide more funding support for the operation of Bahay Pag-asa. This is the key to a more effective implementation of the law instead of putting billions of pesos in 'farm-to-pocket roads' or dredging, which is only prone to corruption. We should put the budget in something that is needed for the hope of our youth," Drilon said.

Drilon earlier said that he sees nothing wrong with the current law, underscoring that the problems lie in the implementation.

"Dismal is the term insofar as the implementation of the law is concerned. It is because of the poor implementation of the law it failed to realize its full potential. This is the area the Congress, particularly the Senate, should focus on," he said.

Drilon's proposal came after the committee on justice and human rights endorsed the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 years old to 12 years old. Drilon, an ex-officio member of the committee, did not sign the committee report.

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