Include children’s rights, welfare in gov’t COVID response – child rights groups
June 16, 2020
Quezon City – “Children should not be left behind. In fact, they should be placed at the core of all government programs and policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In order to make this possible, the government should provide a platform where children could genuinely participate and express their views and opinions towards the situation that the country is facing right now,” said Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns during a virtual conference held earlier today.
The group initiated the 11th series of Ulat Bulilit dubbed “Four Months Into the Pandemic, What’s Next For Filipino Children,” which was attended by hundreds of individuals from various child focused institutions and cause oriented organizations. “While the country focuses its lens on the health crisis and its economic implications, it is equally important to highlight the plight of children. It’s been four months since the country started its battle against the pandemic, however, the government has paid very little attention to the concerns of Filipino children especially of those coming from the poor and marginalized sectors,” said Salinlahi secretary general Eule Rico Bonganay.
The forum focused on different children’s issues including children in street situations, children in conflict with the law, children and education, children in indigenous communities and child sexual abuse and exploitation. Aside from the various situations, the forum highlighted the psychosocial impact of the pandemic to children as well as the initiatives of various non-government organizations to address the concerns of children.
The speakers of the conference include representatives from ACAP Philippines, Association for the Rights of Children in South East Asia (ARCSEA), Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Katribu Youth, Child Rights Network, Plan International and Children’s Rehabilitation Center.
“Undeniably, the situation has a direct impact to children. It is very much alarming that the cases of abuses, violence and exploitation of children have tremendously spiked. Evidently, the government failed to lay down a comprehensive and responsive program to cushion the negative effects of the health crisis to children. Worse, the militaristic approach of the government through the imposition of lockdown has resulted to violations of children’s rights,” Bonganay noted.
“We would like to remind the government that the pandemic does not give the government an excuse for its failure in fulfilling its commitment to the international community in upholding the rights and welfare of children,” Bonganay stressed.
During the discussion, it was highlighted that many of poor families such as the homeless and indigenous people were deprived of the emergency cash assistance from the government. “Many of indigenous groups were forced to walk hours from their communities going to urban centers expecting to receive food aid but to no avail,” a presenter from the Katribu Youth pointed out.
On the other hand, Raymond Basilio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers criticized the Department of Education (DepEd) for being insensitive to the plight of students and teachers in its blended learning program. “Many teachers are shelling out money from their pockets for the reproduction of modules while parents are having difficulty in providing gadgets for their school-aged children. Undeniably, the ineptness of the DepEd will result to the increasing number of out of school children and youth,” he opined.
The groups present during the virtual conference have agreed that there is a need to continue providing necessary services to children and their families including the relief drive and psychosocial support.
“We demand a comprehensive, effective, humane, and participatory approach to the pandemic by focusing on concrete medical solutions while addressing its socio-economic implications with particular emphasis on the stake of children,” Bonganay ended. ###
Reference: Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi Secretary General