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Is the Philippines child-friendly?
Manila, Philippines – The ultimate test of determining the child-friendliness of the country is to ask the children themselves, this according to Anna Lindenfors, Country Director of Save the Children in the Philippines.
“Children know exactly what their situation is, as they have firsthand experience of their own issues and problems. They know what is lacking and what needs to be done in terms of solutions. And more importantly, they are capable of providing suggestions on how children’s lives in their communities can be improved,” Lindenfors adds.
On November 17, more than 400 children and supporting adults from about 40 children’s groups and child-focused civil society organizations nationwide will gather in a National Children’s Forum on children’s issues at the Amoranto Theater in Quezon City, in celebration of the of the upcoming 23rd Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) this November 20.
The event is being organized by the Children Talk to Children About the UN CRC (C2C) Project, a child-led initiative on child rights monitoring and national-level advocacy being supported by the Samahan ng Mamamayan-Zone One Tondo (ZOTO), Inc. and Save the Children since 2009.
The event will kick-off with a parade of the 400 children and adults, launching of the C2C Project and Teka Muna, Bata Muna Magazine, and then progressively discussion, presentation and open forum on children’s issues and recommendations.
The information that will be gathered from the forum is expected to give a comprehensive picture of children’s situation in the Philippines, which will be the basis for child rights monitoring of Save the Children and its partner child-led groups and civil society organizations in the Philippines.
Furthermore, the recommendations of children from the forum will form part of the children’s groups’ platforms to influence voters and 2013 political candidates in prioritizing and pushing forth programs for children’s welfare.
“We expect that the children’s forum will provide more and even new evidences of unmet rights of Filipino children consistent with the 2008 Alternative Report of the Philippine NGO Coalition on the UN CRC, in which Save the Children is a member,” explains Lindenfors.
The Alternative Report (2001-2007) submitted in August 2008 to the UN CRC highlights several crucial gaps in implementing child’s rights in the Philippines. For instance, there is no clear allocation for children in the national budget and there is a decreasing budget for social services. Almost half of the national budget (41% in 2009) goes to debt servicing and interest payment and government funds lost to corruption.
It also points out that 1 out of 10 persons summarily executed is a child aged 12-18. Summary execution statistics in this period was 8-10 persons are being killed every month. Also, corporal punishment, child pornography, statutory rape (age of sexual consent) and foster care were identified as among the gaps in the legal framework for child rights while implementation of the Juvenile Justice Law has been dismal.
In terms of safety and health care, about 12,000 children are left behind daily due to parents and guardians working abroad; children are not adequately protected from abuse, early sexual activity and its consequences.
Mass migration of health workers on the other hand (closure of 200 hospitals; ratio of nurse to patient declined from 1:40 to 1:60) may put at risk progress in reducing infant and under 5 mortality rates and may further increase maternal mortality rates.
Moreover, on average per year, 66 children are killed in conflict-related incidents, 50 cases of children tortured, 55 children arrested and detained and recruitment of children in armed groups have been reported. Massive displacement of families in Mindanao has affected almost 900,000 children from 2001 to 2008.
“Children take their issues seriously. What is important in this forum is giving them the chance to voice out their issues and tell the entire nation how we can make the Philippines a safer and caring country for children,” says Lindenfors.
The state parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), including the Republic of the Philippines are obliged to submit periodic reports about children’s situation in the country to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child every five years. The combined third and fourth periodic reports of the Philippine government was submitted in September 2007, while the alternative report of the Philippine NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child was submitted in August 2008. The next periodic report of the Philippines is due on October 2017.
About C2C: Children Talk to Children
The Children Talk to Children (C2C) About the UN CRC Project, a joint initiative of four child-led organizations that are based in Caloocan, Cavite and Pasay aims to strengthen the meaningful participation of greater number of children in CRC monitoring and campaign.
About Save the Children
Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children. We work in 120 countries. We save children’s lives; we fight for their rights; we help them fulfill their potential.
We work together, with our partners, to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
We have over two million supporters worldwide and raised 1.6 billion dollars last year to reach more children than ever before. In 2011, Save the Children directly reached over 700,000 Filipino children with its programs in health, nutrition, education, protection and child rights, also in times of humanitarian crises.