MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law a bill providing the special protection of children in situations of armed conflict.
Duterte signed the “Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act” or Republic Act. No. 11188 on Jan. 10, 2019 but a copy of which was released to media on Tuesday (Feb. 19).
Under the law, children are declared as “Zones of Peace” which must extend beyond territorial or geographical boundaries.
The law requires the state to “provide special protection to children in situations of armed conflict from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect, cruelty, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development, taking into consideration their gender, cultural, ethnic and religious background.”
It requires the state to take all feasible measures to “prevent the recruitment, re-recruitment, use, displacement of, or grave child rights violations against children involved in armed conflict.”
Moreover, the state should “address the root causes of armed conflict including, but not limited to, poor governance, issues of injustice and widespread poverty and economic inequity that result in involving, affecting or displacing children.”
It provides that the state institute policies, programs, and services for the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of children in situations of armed conflict.
Services must include psycho-social support, health and nutrition, education, livelihood for families and other basic or legal services, as may be necessary.
It designates the Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, chaired by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), to undertake the protection of the welfare of children in situations of armed conflict.
There will be 15 government organizations assigned as the inter-agency’s members including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Departments of Interior and Local Government, Health, Education, Justice, National Defense, Social Welfare and Development (DILG, DOH, DepEd, DOJ, DND, DSWD), local government units (LGUs), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), Philippine National Police (PNP), and two civil society organizations working in the same field.
The act is a consolidation of House Bill No. 7442 and Senate Bill No. 2023 was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on Oct. 20, 2018.
It shall take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. (PNA) By Azer Parrocha