Marilyn Agonia, CSSDO chief told MindaNews the city government is hiring the social workers to "be able to respond properly to the problems of the needy, not only the children at the barangay level."
The hiring of a social worker for each barangay was Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's commitment to child welfare advocacy organizations at the height of the local debate on the juvenile justice system.
Weeks before the Juvenile Justice Summit was convened earlier this year, Duterte met with non-government organizations advocating children’s rights and other stakeholders in the protection of children.
The mayor vowed to support the proposal for the hiring of the social workers to augment the efforts done to protect children at the community level. Earlier this year, he sounded off his opposition to the Juvenile Justice System, which prohibits detention of minors.
He said children have been emboldened to commit crimes because of the law. He has since opposed the law and called for its repeal.
Agonia told reporters they are now laying down the groundwork for the recruitment of social workers. But she said she could not project a time frame pending the finalization of the 2008 budget of the city government.
The move, she said, should boost the CSSDO's present pool of at least 50 social workers.
But she clarified the decision to hire came ahead of the case of Mariannet Amper, 12, who was reported to have committed suicide.
Agonia said autopsy findings which suggested she was raped debunked allegations Amper hanged herself because of poverty.
She said the hiring of social workers would address a wider range of issues and concerns in the community. "But it doesn't really guarantee it would solve or prevent a case just like that of Mariannet's," she stressed.
"Eventually, the work initiated by the local social worker would help," she said.
"Now there could be localized reports of the situation in the barangay. From those reports we could have a view of the situation and what to do about it," she said.
She, however, cited that the social workers will not be doing basic ground work. Already, she said, around 400 day care workers focusing on early childhood care have been assigned in the city's day care centers. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)