Child rights group fears possible abuses vs kids in typhoon-hit communities
MANILA, Philippines — Child rights organization Educo Philippines said there could be possible protection risks, including physical abuses, against children particularly in Catanduanes communities, which were severely hit by Typhoon Rolly in early November.
After a month since Rolly’s violent rains and winds battered thousands of houses, Shiena Base, Educo’s emergency response team chief, cited that three to 10 families in Catanduanes, mostly composed of young women, were forced to sacrifice privacy issues and had to stay in small areas because of lack of shelters in Catanduanes communities.
Base also noted that children and young women could also suffer from “heightened” protection risks due to lack of electricity which makes it difficult for them to report these problems as their families have other issues to deal with such as reviving their livelihood, among others.
“Sa tingin ko it is necesarry na tingnan ang protection ng mga bata […] Maganda rin ang mekanismo sa pagrereport ng community,” Base said in an interview with INQUIRER.net, explaining the protection risks against children staying in small spaces.
(I think it is necessary that we look into the protection of children. It is a good mechanism to report this in the community.)
During their relief and assessment operations in Catanduanes, Educo PH found that 12,496 homes were partially damaged out of 19,140 houses in barangays Bato, Baras, San Andres, San Miguel, Gigmoto, Caramoran and Virac.
LGUs, stakeholders need to step up
The protection of minors is not only the job of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) but also the responsibility of local government units (LGUs) as well as its stakeholders, Base said.
“Katulad din namin, maraming organizations na pumupunta doon (Catanduanes), iyong Department of Education, na dapat [kung] may ganitong pang-aabuso kailangan magreport sila. Kailangan maging alert sa tamang protection ng mga bata at mga kababaihan. It is not only the DSWD, it is the role of everyone working in the local government and stakeholders,” she said.
(Like us, DepEd and other organizations are also going to communities, that abuses should be reported. They need to be alert in cases of abuses against children. They need to be alert for the right protection of children and women.)
“Dapat naka-indent siya (child protection) sa bawat programa ng gobyerno. So hindi lang si DSWD.” Base pointed out.
(Child protection should be included in every program of the government. Not only with the DSWD.)
LGUs must not only focus on distribution of aid to children but also provide hotlines to allow children to report physical or sexual abuses, Base explained.
“Ipaalam sa mga tao na kahit may disaster, hindi natigil ‘yung serbisyo ng LGU. (They should inform the people that even if there is a disaster, their services did not stop),” Base said.
Children should go back to school, but…
Base said that on their initial assessment, 90 percent schools in Catanduanes suffered damage from Rolly. She previously said that printed modules and other school equipment were also destroyed due to the typhoon’s impact.
Despite this, the child rights organization said children must continue their studies if the local government can address issues such as financial issues and replacing modules, among others.
“We are not saying na dapat immediately buksan na ninyo ang klase at kailangan tingnan ano ang kakayahan at resources ng lcoal government when it comes to addressing barriers of education. Let us go hand in hand para mapatuloy ang normalcy ng mga bata,” she said.
(We are not saying that classes should open immediately; they need to first survey what resources are needed by schools and if the local government can provide these resources. Let us go hand in hand to restore the normalcy of children.)
Rolly, which was previously a super typhoon, hit the country especially the Bicol areas last November 1. The typhoon killed at least seven individuals after it left flooded barangays and forced residents to leave their homes.
Government records showed that about P8.4 billion worth of damages to infrastructure were recorded due to the typhoon. Rolly also caused about P2.9 billion damage to the agriculture sector.
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