SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
As the country joins the celebration of International Youth Day today, a timely measure which seeks to provide a Magna Carta of Out-of-School Youth, which aims to protect the right of the OSY to social protection and develop their full potential as partners in nation-building, is being pursued anew at the House of Representatives.
The proposal is embodied in House Bill 198 or the proposed “Magna Carta of the Out-of-School Youth Act”, authored by Reps. Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija) and Horacio Suansing (2nd District, Sultan Kudarat). The bill is now pending at the Committee on Youth and Sports Development.
During the past 17th Congress, the House approved on third and final reading a similar proposal embodied in HB 9103, with the Suansing couple among its authors.
Suansing, chairperson of the Committee on Ways and Means during the 17th Congress, cited that the 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey showed that nine percent of the estimated 39.2 million Filipinos aged six to 24 years old were out-of-school children and youth who cited marriage or family matters, lack of personal interest, personal concern, and costly education as the primary reasons for not attending school.
She said most, if not all, of the OSY surveyed belong to the marginalized sector of society, making them vulnerable and often subjected to discrimination and becoming victims of abuse and violence.
“This bill ensures that the rights of the OSY are protected and promoted, that the OSY are empowered and granted the same opportunities and equal treatment as their peers, thereby developing the OSY’s full potential as partners in nation-building,” said Suansing.
The bill declares that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. Pursuant to this, the State recognizes the right of the OSY to social protection and to develop their full potential as partners in nation-building.
To attain this, the State shall promulgate measures to achieve the following objectives: 1) inspire and encourage the OSY to contribute to nation-building; 2) recognize the rights of the OSY in society; 3) provide an alternative learning system and a program for technical or vocational education for them; (4) give full support for the improvement of the total wellbeing of the OSY by providing educational development and employment opportunities; and 5) recognize the important role of the private sector in improving the welfare of the OSY and actively seek their partnership.
The bill refers to an out-of-school youth as a member of the population aged 15 to 30 years old who is currently out of school, not gainfully employed, and has not finished college or a post-secondary course.
The bill mandates the National Youth Commission (NYC) and concerned youth serving agencies to be guided by progressive developments in the human rights of the OSY under international law, and shall endeavor to design policies, laws, and other regulatory measures to fulfill these duties.
The State shall institute programs that will carry out the objectives of the Act and promote 1) the protection of the OSY rights against discrimination of corporations, entities, and individuals, and 2) the substantive equality in the rights of the OSY in all spheres of growth and development.
The State shall ensure that the OSY shall be protected from all forms of violence, particularly in cases of physical abuse, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking as provided for in existing laws. The Department of Justice, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and other concerned agencies, shall give priority to the defense and protection of the OSY and help them in attaining justice and healing.
Likewise, the bill provides for equal treatment of the OSY before the law, representation of OSY issues and concerns in media and film, and recognition and preservation of the cultural identity and integrity of Moro and indigenous OSY.
The following agencies shall extend the following government assistance and support to the OSY: 1) Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Commission on Higher Education to provide access of the OSY to formal and non-formal education; 2) Department of Health, in coordination with local government units and nongovernment organizations, to provide a national health program and integral health service for the OSY; 3) DSWD, in cooperation with the LGUs, NGO and other relevant stakeholders to provide social services for the OSY to include social enhancement services and after care services; and 4) Department of Labor and Employment, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry, TESDA and other agencies, to provide employment support to the OSY.
Moreover, the OSY shall be provided with 1) technical or vocational education to be managed by the TESDA; 2) Alternative Learning System of education for the OSY in barangays to be done by the DSWD in coordination with the DepEd; 3) free technical and vocational educational services, materials, instruments, tools and transportation and other costs; 4) entrepreneurial education through a training program; 5) scholarship grant to be recommended by the Local Social Welfare and Development Officer to the CHED.
Services and interventions shall also be extended to the OSY in especially difficult circumstances such as victims of sexual and physical abuse, illegal recruitment, prostitution, trafficking, armed conflict, in conflict with the law, and such other circumstances which have caused functional incapacity in society.
The bill also mandates the Advisory Council created under Republic Act No. 8044 or the “Youth in Nation-Building Act” to plan, coordinate and monitor the yearly work programs of concerned agencies in compliance with the objectives of the Act
Lastly, the bill provides penalties for violators of the Act. Among these are for first violation, imprisonment of six months up to two years and a fine of P50,000 to P100,000. For subsequent violation, penalty shall be imprisonment of two to six years and a fine of P100,000 to P200,000.
The amount necessary to implement the Act shall come from the budget of the concerned agencies in the annual General Appropriations Act./ Rowena B. Bundang, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines