MANILA - Sen. Pia Cayetano on Tuesday slammed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for holding the P35-million budget meant to hire additional social workers who would facilitate adoption processes in the Philippines.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has yet to receive the fund because the DBM wants them to "justify" its use, Cayetano said during budget debates in the Senate.
"It boggles my mind, ano yung iju-justify? We put P35 million there already," she said.
"Lahat ng DSWD, pag nagkaroon tayo ng calamity, ang focus nila calamity, calamity, calamity. Paano naman yung calamity nung 1.8 million na walang nanay na walang magpapakain sa kanila?" she said.
The DSWD needs to hire personnel dedicated for the adoption of children as it involves a "very rigorous process," said the senator, who has a foster child.
"Kulang sila. Hindi nila kaya without our support," she said.
"The budget is intact. The bad news is the budget is there but it is not moving," she said.
Strengthening the DSWD's adoption system may also be a "solution to unwed mothers who would otherwise opt for abortion," she said.
Senator Imee Marcos, who defended the DSWD's budget, agreed with Cayetano's push to strengthen the agency's adoption services.
"It's absolutely infuriating... this fund which is clearly there continues to be in limbo," Marcos said.
"This is unbureaucratic at talagang pencil pushing ito. Sayang naman. May pera na naging bato pa," she said.
Cayetano made a manifestation that the fund should be released this year, and a similar allocation should also be included in the 2021 budget.