[Ulat Bulilit Series 11] Four Months into the Pandemic,
What's next For Filipino Children?
Without an evident decline in the number of COVID-19 infections in the country, the government resorted to easing of lockdown and restriction on mobility. While such move may allow people to earn a living, it fails to assuage the public fear especially that a comprehensive plan to control the spread of the virus and treat the sick is yet to be put in place.
The after-effects of the coronavirus pandemic may demonstrate more devastating than the disease itself for the world’s poorest countries like the Philippines. It will likely trigger an unprecedented economic slowdown and heightening of social tensions.
The approach of the national government to the crisis lacks urgency, inadequate and has been proven to be very reactive. The pandemic has not only exposed the long-running neglect of the health care system but also underscore the glaring poverty and socio-economic inequalities.
Since March, eighteen (18) million poor and low-income Filipino families including children are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. It took three long weeks before emergency cash subsidies were released. And in fact, many of the affected families are still left behind from the cash assistance of the national government.
Our health care system is extremely overwhelmed while facilities are so stretched with a great number of medical frontliners have succumbed to death.
Rather than giving stress to concrete medical solutions, the government focused more on drastic measures such as lockdown which led to increased cases of abuses and violence among children and families.
Undeniably, the situation has a direct impact to children. With the schools shut down, children are forced to stay inside their houses with limited productive activities. On the other hand, thousands of them were apprehended for supposedly violating curfew hours. Many of them were subjected to inhumane treatment, physical and verbal abuses and even sexual assaults.
Because of the social confinement, children tend to use online platform. Longer screen time means a longer chance of exploration to different sites. According to Child Rights Network, sexual predators are taking advantage of the lockdown situation with more kids are at home, and abusers may be more motivated to create and supply online child abuse materials amid the tough economic situation during the lockdown.
Children victims of domestic abuse and violence are now trapped inside their houses together with abusers. Worse, the situation further increased the barriers hindering the access of children and women to justice system.
It also has a profound effect on the psychosocial aspects of the child. Aside from physical injuries, also emotional and psychological wounds are all the more worrying. The isolation, containment and lack of physical socialization causing widespread mental health problems among children and families including depression and anxiety.
While the country focuses its lens on the health crisis and its economic implications, it is equally important to highlight the plight of children. Hence, the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns in partnership with various child rights institutions has been initiating campaign and advocacies relevant to the current condition of Filipino children. In particular, the alliance will hold the 11th series of Ulat Bulilit with the title “Four months into the pandemic, what’s next for Filipino children?” with the following objectives:
1. To give participating individuals and organizations an update regarding the situation of Filipino children amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
2. To identify alternatives, means and measures child focused groups and individuals can adopt/advocate for in order to ensure the rights and welfare of Filipino children
The Salinlahi Secretary General will moderate the discussion and start with an introduction
Panellists will be given 8-10 minutes to respond to specific questions (brief situation and alternatives)
Registered participants of the webinar and those who watch via FB live stream will be given an opportunity to ask questions and/or share experiences
Note: Summary report of the webinar will be shared among registered participants
1. What are the situation of children amidst the COVID-19 crisis in Philippines?
2. How your organization respond to the situation of these children?
3. Way forward/the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis: specific recommendations from the experiences faced by your organization since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Children in street situations – ACAP
2. Children and Education – Alliance of Concerned Teachers
3. Children in Conflict with the Law – PREDA
4. Children in Rural and IP Communities – Katribu or Save Our Schools Network
5. Child Rape and Online Sexual Exploitation of Children – Child Right’s Network
6. Psychosocial impact to Children – Children’s Rehabilitation Center
7. UNICEF Representative
Moderator: Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi Secretary General