Imee Marcos questions need for children's welfare body

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Imee Marcos on Tuesday, September 24, questioned the relevance of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), amid rightsizing plans of the government.

At the budget hearing of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and its attached agencies, Marcos asked CWC planning officer Normina Mojica about its programs for the welfare of children.

Mojica explained that the body is tasked with coming up with long-term national plans for the welfare of children, as well as on top of coordinating for the enforcement of laws on children.

But a seemingly irked Marcos repeatedly asked Mojica what exactly does the CWC do: "Puro policy-making lang kayo? Walang projects?" (You're only part of policy-making? There are no projects?) 

Mojica reiterated her earlier response: "Yes, if we're pilot testing certain projects that would lead also for policy and program development. Our mandate is policy formulation and plans and programs development."

Marcos then pointed out that CWC might be in danger of the rightsizing plans of the executive. As the sponsor of DSWD budget, she said she needs to know how she will answer questions about their funds.

"You're a small office but small offices are in danger of rightsizing. Now, if you cannot lay claim to any significant program or policy, you're at threat. I'm not scaring you. I'm simply saying that you have to lay claim to some accomplishment," Marcos said.

Mojica replied that the biggest accomplishment of the body is to write the compliance report on the laws. She said this is why they are asking for a higher budget for "institutional strengthening."

But Marcos asked whether the office, which was established in 1973, is still "relevant" given its limited functions: "Napakaraming dekada na ang nakaraan. Relevant pa ba 'yan? 'Yun ang tanong considering that the…DSWD has evolved into all sorts of institutions."

(A couple of decades have already passed. Is it still relevant? That's the question, considering that DSWD has already evolved into all sorts of institutions.)

As Mojica insisted that the agency is still relevant, Marcos just asked her to submit the "most important accomplishment" of the body.

The 24-man CWC is asking Congress for a total of P63.22 million budget for 2020. On the 2020 National Expenditure Program, about half of its budget will be spent for the policy formulation and coordination for the plans and programs on the "fulfillment of the rights of the child."

The P158.56-billion DSWD budget was approved on the committee level. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.