Kids ‘take over’ Senate, voice out their needs and concerns
Children and young people on Thursday “took over” the Senate for an hour to voice their concerns and demand their rights and urged legislators and policymakers to respond to the issues affecting their lives.
The takeover was staged in commemoration of World Children’s Day. Child speakers issued a call to action on issues such as poverty and slow and uneven distribution of the benefits of economic growth.
In the Philippines, child poverty has persisted at 31.4 per cent nationally and 48.2 per cent in Mindanao. This translates into one in every three children being stricken by poverty nationally and nearly one in two in Mindanao. High incidences of persistent poverty has caused multiple deprivations and opened up chasms of disparity among a large number of children.
Thirty-two children from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao participated in the event dubbed as : ‘For Every Child, A Voice; A Children’s Assembly’ in the Senate and in Museo Pambata (Children’s Museum). The event was supported by UNICEF and the Child Rights Network (CRN).
Four young speakers nominated by their peers passionately spoke about sexual exploitation and abuse of children; lack of access to social services with special focus on children from indigenous communities; physical and humiliating punishment; teenage pregnancy and adolescent reproductive health. The children represented a number of special needs groups: urban and rural poor, children with disabilities, indigenous children, and children affected by disasters, conflict, and displacement. The subjects they spoke on were chosen by the child participants from a long list of key issues affecting their lives.
“I want to talk about bullying because when we stayed in Malabang Evacuation Centre, we got bullied for being an IDP (internally-displaced person). It hurts every time we get bullied. But I believe every child should have the right to live in peace and in a safe environment,” says Airah, 13, a child displaced as a result of the Marawi conflict.
Senators Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe and Francis Pangilinan responded to the concerns raised by children in their speech at the Senate takeover children’s session.
Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, Executive Director of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, and Patricia Mae Lopez, Chief of Staff Office of the Chairperson and CEO, National Youth Council, responded to the issues and concerns raised by child speakers in the Children’s Assembly.
Young participants of the Children’s Assembly read out a Declaration of Commitment to ask for the participation of the adult, the government and other organizations to support their rights and prioritize their concerns.
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