In time for the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the 27th National Children’s Month, World Vision organized a 3-day national children’s congress, attended by more than 140 children across the country.
The event, anchored on the theme “Karapatan ng Bata: Ipagdiwang at Patuloy na Pahalagahan”, provided a venue for child leaders to present to government leaders their manifesto which highlights their call for the government and other non-government organizations to address the different issues and concerns that directly or indirectly affect the full attainment of their rights.
Among the issues raised include the lack of support and recognition for Barangay Children’s Associations (BCA), poor health services and poor sanitary conditions in communities, lack of teachers and educational facilities, low family income, bullying and discrimination. Alongside the issues were children’s recommended solutions.
“My life changed after the armed conflict in my city. I wanted to quit studying to help provide for the family but I’m grateful that my parents did not allow me to stop despite our financial challenges. If given a chance, I want to be an accountant someday,” shared Abdullah of Marawi City.
The children suggested for provision of income- generating mechanisms to families, as well as access to technical/vocational skills training programs.
National Youth Commission Assistant Secretary Victor Del Rosario who was present during the presentation said that congresses like this are important because they serve as avenues where children may “vent their major issues, concerns and challenges that will be heard by the government for appropriate action”. He added that the government deems the welfare of children very significant in governance.
The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Women and Children’s Protection Center (WCPC) through Assistant Chief Colonel Robert Gallardo also affirmed its commitment to upholding the rights of children.
“Our centers in police stations nationwide can cater to all complaints affecting women and children, and we can protect them.”
Leaders from the Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Council for the Welfare of Children, National Committee for Children and Youth Participation, UN Youth Advisory Board, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos – Office of the President were also present during the Children’s Manifesto presentation.
The work continues
“We laud the children for their courage to speak on issues that concern them but we recognize that there is more to be done for them and with them. As a child-focused organization, World Vision will continue to help empower and provide them with venues to come together and amplify their right to be heard and make informed decisions to matters affecting them,” said World Vision Executive Director Rommel V. Fuerte.
“One of the things that stuck with me was the discussion on child protection. I learned where to go when we are abused or taken advantage of,” said Kate of Leyte Province.
Meanwhile, Kim from Camarines Norte and a first-time attendee of the children’s congress, shared that he made friends with other children despite coming from different backgrounds and that he enjoyed learning more about the country through the different cultural presentations of his fellow children.
Aside from the crafting of the Children’s manifesto, the 3-day event further discussed the UNCRC principles, sustainable development goals, and the four categories of children’s rights: survival, development, participation and protection.
Towards the end of the congress, a new set of child officers were elected for the World Vision National Children’s Federation (WVNCF), a national assembly of children-representatives from assisted communities. WVNCF advocates for active child participation in achieving safe and protective environment in partnership with parents, local government, non-government organizations, private sectors, communities and institutions.
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