DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A children’s rights organization here has asked the city government to establish the Special Office for Children’s Concerns (SOCC), which has long been stipulated in the children’s code but remained unimplemented.
Bernie Modragon of Act for Children Alliance said in a press conference Tuesday that this made the city’s winning streak as the most child-friendly city still lacking in substance.
The Davao ACT for Children’s Rights and the Act for Children Alliance has submitted its appeal to the Office of the City Mayor regarding the need for the full implementation of the Children’s Welfare Code, particularly the establishment of the SOCC.
The alliance stated that the full implementation of the Code of 1994, and which was amended in 2006, “is long overdue”. While certain provisions of the ordinance have been implemented as a response to certain incidents of abuse on children, “the programmatic and systemic implementation of the regulation is still absent”.
“We feel that children in the city deserve more, and need protection and more comprehensive programs to address the roots of child abuse,” the plea stated.
The Davao ACT for Children’s Rights, a federation composed of 28 barangay-based youth among three districts in the city, echoed this appeal in their open letter to Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio formulated through a joint children’s consultation.
In their letter, read by the federation president Jaziel Sinadjan, a list of recommendations were proposed. This includes provisions regarding job opportunities for marginalized families, the promotion of responsible parenthood, strengthening the functionality of Barangay councils and offices concerned with child protection and of course, the creation of the SOCC.
Both institutions have been pushing for greater efforts to prioritize children-oriented concerns in the city and according to them this is the third series of appeals that they have forwarded to the Mayor’s attention.
Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking
In support of the demand to appropriate an office to address children’s concern, the Blue Heart Campaign under the Anti-Human Trafficking sector of the United Nations identifies the youth as the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking in the region.
Jeanette Ampog, executive director of Talikala Davao, said that as of March this year, some 21 cases of human trafficking have been confirmed, 11 of which involved children aged 13 to 17.
Seventeen of these criminal acts were committed in Davao City and victims were dominantly females. Last year, a total of 96 cases were tallied and most victims belonged to the 7-12 and 18-35 age groups.
Ampog also pointed out that despite being classified under Tier 1 in terms of interventions against human trafficking, the Philippines is said to be the sixth most dangerous country for women to be exploited and sexually abused.
Thus, according to Ampog, they support the appeal for greater initiatives amongst Local Government Units (LGUs) to ensure that women and children are protected within their very homes since recent violators include relatives who sexually expose children and women via cyberspace and online sexual sites.
Talikala Davao, a non-governmental organization (NGO) was formed to cater to the concerns of women in prostitution as well as to advocate against human trafficking. It was set to commemorate the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. (davaotoday.com)