Senator Loren Legarda is seeking the passage of a law that would establish welfare and crisis centers for street children all over the country, citing the lack of laws that look after their welfare and well-being.
"It is lamentable that while there are several laws that protect the rights and welfare of Filipino children in general, there is practically no piece of legislation addressing the special needs of street children," said Loren in filing Senate Bill No. 230.
Loren explained that under her proposed law, crisis centers will be established in every city or municipality that will provide various assistance to street children like temporary shelter, emergency medical and feeding programs, as well as basic education.
She said the crisis centers will be implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in close coordination with local government units (LGUs).
"This measure will assist in providing street children the means to uplift their conditions and take them out of the streets through programs that will equip them with livelihood, technical and social skills," Loren said in the explanatory note of her bill.
According to the Council for the Welfare of Children, there were 45,000 street children nationwide in the year 2000 alone. Seventy-five percent of the children stayed on the street most of the time, while 20 percent practically lived on the street, it said.
Loren said that specially worrisome was the finding of the council that five percent of the street children in its study suffered abuse or were engaged in illegal activities.
"National and local government agencies work hand in hand in order to uplift the situation of Filipino street children, but they have numerous needs that have yet to be made," she said.
Loren said that since the council’s study, the number of street children must have tripled or quadrupled, judging on their number seen in the streets of Metro Manila asking for alms or selling cigarettes and the like.
The proposed measure authorizes the acceptance of donations and grants from local and international organization by the implementing agency to supplement the appropriated funds for the establishment, maintenance and operation of the street children crisis centers.
These funds will be distributed accordingly to the various crisis centers within the city or municipality, Loren explained.