DAVAO CITY – Various non-government organizations in Cotabato province signed a Manifesto calling for the lawmakers to pass a law protecting children’s rights during disasters.
In the manifesto signed at the policy forum organized by child rights organization Save the Children, the NGOs said that the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act “will establish a national policy to improve the care and protection of children affected by disasters, calamities and other emergencies”.
The resolution pointed that “the trauma and suffering experienced by children affected by disasters can be avoided or lessened in future disasters by Congress acting now to establish clear policies regarding the welfare of children in situations of disaster and translate the lessons of Typhoon Yolanda and other disasters into specific measures for child protection.”
In June 2015, a resolution of support for the bill was unanimously approved by the South Cotabato Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council).
Once enacted into law, the bill would require DSWD and other national agencies to enhance services related to monitoring and protection of children vulnerable to and affected by disasters. These include improved family tracing for unaccompanied minors, separate data collection to identify children, child-focused emergency training and limiting use of schools as evacuation centers so that children could quickly resume their classes.
Roy Bautista, Save the Children Advocacy Manager said “thousands of lives were lost in Mindanao in the wake of typhoons Pablo, Seniang and Yolanda. We know that children usually bear the brunt of the disaster’s impact. The support of the civil society and the local government shows how critical it is for Congress and Senate to pass the bill soon.”
The children’s bill 5285 has been approved on third reading by the House of Representative and is now pending at the Philippine Senate.(davaotoday.com)