'Gov't budget on youth not enough'
Jovan Cerda (The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2013 - 3:03pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration needs to increase its investment in the youth amid issues confronting the sector, youth groups said last Wednesday in a meeting in Malacañan with Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Ninian Sumadia, Akbayan Youth National Council member, cited a study from the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) saying that the current government only allots P2,000 pesos per young person, not enough to address other issues of the youth. 

“The report of NAPC captures the grim picture of youth situation in the country. The government spending for youth concerns is still way below than the spending of our neighboring countries and international standards," she said.

The report noted that the government currently spends 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product to education, way below the United Nations' recommendation of 6 percent.

The report said from 2008, government spending for the youth increased by 800 or 75 percent. The groups, however, brought into attention the need for a higher budget given the rising incidence of human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted infections, unemployment and college drop out rates among the youth.

Sumadia added the increase may not be enough to capture the growing population of the youth.

Furthermore, in terms of health of young people, government support remains insufficient, the groups said.

“Even in the midst of rising cases of teenage pregnancy, the government does not spend a centavo to address the issue. Spending for education, employment and youth participation increased but spending for young people’s health decreased by 10.89 percent”, she said.

The Forum for Family Planning and Development, a non-government organization, said the Philippines ranks third in Southeast Asia in the incidednce of teenage pregnancy.

The groups recommended that the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) should be re-allocated to social services. 

Heart Diño, chair of the Student Council Association of the Philippines, said the recent P10-billion PDAF scandal, where members of Congress were accused of using the funds through a bogus non-government organization, should serve as a signal for government to rethink its priorities.

“The economic growth does not mean anything if it’s not translated to public spending for social services," she said.

AKBAYAN YOUTH NATIONAL COUNCIL DEPUTY PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABIGAIL VALTE FAMILY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT GOVERNMENT HEART DI NATIONAL ANTI-POVERTY COMMISSION NINIAN SUMADIA SOUTHEAST ASIA STUDENT COUNCIL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES YOUTH
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