Situation of Filipino children generally improved over the 25-year period since 1989 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 November 2014 14:40

By LEILANI S. JUNIO

 

There has been a great improvement on the situation of Filipino children in the last 25 years since the country ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“The situation of the country’s children has generally improved over the 25-year period,” DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the UNCRC in the country on Thursday at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, in Pasay City.

Soliman cited that based on the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) report, the Philippines is “on track” in meeting many of the targets set in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

She mentioned that some of the notable achievements are progress on preventable child or infant deaths, immunization coverage, providing educational opportunities among young girls, enactment of the Milk Code, the Juvenile Justice System, Anti-Child Trafficking Act, Anti-Pornography Act, Foster Care Act and access to civil registration, including birth registration.

She said that through the immunization program, malaria incidence was greatly reduced along with tuberculosis and many households have increased access to safe drinking water.

“The target of having the proportion of the households with low access to basic sanitation has already been achieved,” she said.

She also noted that on the budgetary allocation for services, especially for the poor and disadvantaged children, the government’s expenditure had grown by 15 percent on the average from 2007 to 2012.

“We all see in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2010 to 2014 that the budget allocation for programs for children increases at an annual rate of 15.5 percent at constant rate,” she said.

She shared that for the same period, the percentage for the social sector budget allocation had been higher than in debt servicing.

Soliman said the significant increase in the budget for the social sector was due to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the multi-dimensional poverty-reduction strategy being implemented by the DSWD, together with the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The 4Ps is a form of investment on the Filipino youth by giving cash grants which are spent to promote the health and education of children.

Under the program, the children of household beneficiaries of the 4Ps are required to be healthy and studying in school so that they will at least finish high school and become future productive members of society capable of lifting their families from poverty.

On Legislative Reform to bring national legislation into full conformity with the UNCRC, Soliman cited that a total of 47 laws were crafted, including some which increased the Philippines compliance with the minimum standard set by the Convention.

Among these were 10 laws related to the rights to survival, 18 on the rights to development, 14 on prevention of abuse, and five on participation of children in governance.

“Needles to say, we must continue and even intensify all our efforts so that we can fully create a caring and protective society for, by and with the children,” she stressed.

Soliman lauded DSWD’s attached agency, the Council for the Welfare of the Children (CWC) which works in assuring the achievement of child-friendly Philippines society vision.

“We have established local councils for the protection of children and regional subcommittees for the welfare of children which link the national and local level and consequently strengthen the response of the government to the needs of children,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the start of the UNCRC anniversary celebration, children holding some placards presented their rights that need continuous support and protection in the society.

United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative Lotta Sylwander said that while they are happy with the significant achievements of the country in meeting the challenges on children as they see that more Filipino children are growing happy and healthy over the past 25 years, still they are expecting that all children rights are realized equitably.

“The rights and well-being of the children must be at the heart of sustainable development planning that the government agrees to for the coming years and decades,” Sylwander said.

She added that duty bearers must ensure that sufficient resources are invested and child friendly laws are enforced down to the barangay level.

On July 26, 1990, the Philippines became the 31st state worldwide that ratified the UNCRC.

By ratifying it, the Philippines made a set of promises to children, like a vision where children survive and develop to their full potential without discrimination, protected, respected and encouraged to participate in decisions that affect their lives.

The UNCRC is the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. It was first adopted by the UN General Assembly on Nov. 20, 1989.