A Situtationer of Street Children in the Philippines

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A SITUTATIONER OF STREET CHILDREN IN THE PHILIPPINES
(Presented at the Civil Society Forum on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children in Southeast Asia)
Bangkok, Thailand
March 12 - 14, 2003

1. Background

A. Brief Overview of the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago with a population of 76,498,735, and a population density of 255 per sq. km, as of the year 2000. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of this population is urbanized (1999)[1], with an average annual urban population growth rate of 4.2% (1990 - 1995)[2]. Its capital, Manila, has a population of 1,654,761 (2000)[3].

It is culturally diverse with over 111 cultural and racial groups, each with its own language or dialect. Eighty-four percent (84%) are Roman Catholic, the rest are made up mostly of Moslems (5%)[4], Protestants and other Christian denominations, Buddhists, and Taoists.[5]

Unfortunately, this country has a high rate of poverty. Unemployment is high. As of April 2001, the unemployment rate reached 13.3%, or around 4.5 million Filipinos without jobs[6]. The prices of basic commodities have also increased by 6.7%. Using 1994 as the base year, the peso has lost 37% of its value in early 2001 due to increased prices of goods. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew only by 3.3%, compared to a 3.8% growth in the same period in 2000.[7]

Also, official figures show an increase in the poverty incidence or the proportion of families with income below the poverty line, from 31.8% in 1997 to 34.2% in 2000.[8]

|Poverty Threshold, 2000[9] | | |Poverty Incidence |Annual per capita |Daily per capita poverty | | |(families) |Poverty threshold |threshold | |Philippines |34.2% |P13,916.00 |P38.13 | |NCR |9.7% |P18,001.00 |P49.32 | |Outside NCR |38.3% |P13,239.00 |P36.27 | |Source of basic data: National Statistics Coordination Board |

At present, Ibon Facts and Figures estimate that 89% of the population live below decent living standards. Based on recent government estimates, the bottom 40% of the income strata accounts for only 11% of the total income while the top 20% accounts for 57% of total income.[10]

Two out of every five Filipino families are now living in poverty, the National Statistics Coordination Board reported. IBON estimates that a family of six needs PhP 420.00 on the average to meet its daily necessities. In Metro Manila, where the legislated daily minimum wage is pegged at PhP 250.00, a minimum wage earner needs an additional PhP 255.81 to meet his or her family's food and non-food requirements. This simply means that the minimum wage fulfills less than half of the family's estimated cost of living.[11]

The brunt of this suffering is felt most by the children. Following the UN definition of a child ("every human being below the age of 18 years or less unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier"), there are 34.7 million children in the country out of the total population of 75.5 million as of the year 2000. Majority of these children are in difficult circumstances and are not able to meet basic needs adequately. According to UNICEF, the Philippines is among the top 10 countries with malnourished children aged below five years.[12]

B. Definition of and statistics on street children

Street children are children who either live or work on the streets,...
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