THE House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the proposed Magna Carta of the Out-of-School Youth (OSY) that will acknowledge and promote the rights of OSYs and empower them to contribute to nation-building.
With an overwhelming 246 votes, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) No. 9347 on third and final reading during plenary session.
“This bill aims to give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of the OSYs by providing learning and employment opportunities as well as the needed social services and interventions,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said.
“Through this bill, we also aim to recognize the important role of the private sector in improving the welfare of the OSYs and to seek their partnership actively,” Speaker Romualdez, the leader of the 300-strong-member House of Representatives, said.
Some of the principal authors are Reps. Christian Tell Yap, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Juan Carlos Atayde, Keith Micah Tan, Rufus Rodriguez, PM Vargas, Edwin Olivarez, Lordan Suan, Christian Unabia, LRay Villafuerte, Manuel Jose Dalipe, and others.
The bill provides that the State, through the National Youth Commission (NYC), Commission on Human Rights, and other concerned youth-serving agencies, guided by progressive developments on the aspect of human rights of the OSY under international law, shall institute programs that will protect OSYs against discrimination of any kind, and promote of substantive equality on the rights in all aspects of growth and development.
HB 9347 also spells out the rights and empowerments for OSYs such as their human rights, equal treatment before the law, representation of OSYs in media, film and other platforms, recognition and preservation of the cultural identity and integrity of the Moro and indigenous OSYs to practice, promote, protect, and preserve their own culture, traditions, and institutions, and decent work standards for the OSYs who have graduated from Technical-Vocational Education and Training courses.
The proposed law provides government assistance and support to the OSYs in education, health, social services, and employment, particularly programs to ensure free access of the OSYs to formal, informal, and non-formal learning opportunities such as technical or vocational education, alternative learning system, promotion to tertiary education, and entrepreneurial education, and other programs that seek to reduce poverty and vulnerability to risks faced by the OSYs.
“The bill seeks to provide sufficient assistance to OSYs who are in challenging circumstances, such as those with disabilities, victims of sexual and physical abuse, illegal recruitment, prostitution, trafficking, armed conflict, OSY in conflict with the law, and in times of crisis, pandemic, and other public health emergencies,” Speaker Romualdez noted.
“This will be made possible by providing the services such as (a) Temporary and protective custody; (b) Medical, dental, and physical therapy services; (c) Mental health care; (d) Psychological evaluation; (e) Counseling; (t) Psychiatric evaluation; (g) Legal services; (h) Productivity capability building; (i) Livelihood assistance; (i) Financial assistance; (k) Life skills training; and () Health education and information,” the House leader added.
HB 9347 also provides for the penalties for violations under the measure, such as discrimination against OSYs by private corporations, entities, and individuals; discrimination in wages, condition of work, and employment opportunities; and non-compliance with the mandatory coverage by employers of health, accident, and life insurance.
The measure also proposes that the Advisory Council created under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 8044, otherwise known as the “Youth in Nation-Building Act,” shall implement some provisions and functions, including the formulation of a National Comprehensive Multi-Stakeholder Plan of Action for the OSYs which shall include back-to-school transitional support pathing, counseling, mental and reproductive health education and services, skills training and livelihood assistance, among others.
The measure also defines the roles and responsibilities of the NYC, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Local Social Welfare and Development Officer, Sangguniang Kabataan, the Local Youth Development Council, Local Government Units (LGU), Department of Agriculture, and Non-Government Organizations.