By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on the Welfare of Children has passed a consolidated bill seeking the setting up of a special trust fund with an annual allocation of P50,000 to aid abandoned, neglected and voluntarily committed children who are under the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez, chairman of the panel, said under the bill, the trust fund can be tapped by neglected children who will leave the DSWD’s care upon reaching the age of 18.
“These neglected children need all the support from the State even after they leave the comfort of DSWD facilities so they can reach their fullest potential as productive adults,” she said.
Romualdez described as “commendable” her colleague’s efforts to create a national program and trust fund for neglected children.
“We, in the committee, also consider the bill a priority measure as the principal author is no less than the Speaker of the House, Alan Peter Cayetano,” she said, referring to House Bill No. 3 authored by Speaker Cayetano.
Cayetano’s bill was consolidated with the measures filed by Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado and An Waray party-list Rep. Florencio Noel.
Under the consolidated bill, the DSWD is tasked to set up a comprehensive monitoring system to address the needs of the abandoned, neglected, or voluntary committed children.
It also mandates the DSWD to create a transparent mechanism that would ensure a “reasonable” lump sum grant to abandoned, neglected, or voluntarily-committed children who turn 18 years old and are ready to lead a life of their own.
“A trust fund account in a trust entity shall be opened in the name of every covered child under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to be entered into by the DSWD and the chosen trust entity,” the bill said.
The measure requires the DWSD to deposit P12,500 quarterly in every trust fund until the account matures, unless terminated by the DSWD due to the death or ineligibility of the recipient.
The fund shall be sourced from a regular annual appropriation item in the DSWD budget.
“In the event that the recipient child has been rendered ineligible to receive the said fund, or dies prior to reaching the age of majority, the trust fund for such minor shall be forfeited in favor of the State,” the bill said.
The measure identifies the following circumstances that would lead to the revocation of the grant: when the abandoned, neglected, or voluntarily-committed child has attempted against the life of his fellow abandoned, neglected, or voluntarily-committed children or his guardian, ascendants or descendants; abandoned the child-caring institution for a period of six months and efforts have been exhausted to locate him or her within the stated period; been found to be pushing or using prohibited drugs, or otherwise involved in any illegal activity; been found to be living a dishonorable or disgraceful life; and been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.