Child rights groups and advocates together with children from different sectors highlighted the situation of the Filipino children under the six years of ‘daang matuwid’ and forwarded their demands during SALINLAHI’s Ulat Bulilit series 5 dubbed as Bata, Boto, Balota: The 2016 Filipino Children’s Agenda in Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman, Quezon City early morning today.
‘Despite the ballooning budget of the Aquino government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, pegged at P62 billion this 2016, 7 out of 10 Filipinos consider themselves poor,’ said Kharlo Manano describing the condition of the majority of Filipino families.
According to Manano, the dearth of regular decent jobs and economic opportunities in the country has immensely intensified the difficulties confronting poor Filipino families. ‘Many parents are still struggling daily from financial incapacity to support their children. In some cases, children are even forced to work at an early age in order to contribute to their families’ income’ said Manano, noting that 5.5 million Filipino children are toiling in factories, plantations, haciendas and mines.
Manano also tackled the increasing number of cases of violence against women and children (VAWC). ‘Seven (7) out of 10 rape victims are children. Rape cases increased by 92% from 5,132 in 2010 to 9,875 in 2014. Child cyberpornography cases also increased by 56% in 2015.’ He also noted rape cases involving state armed forces, including the case of a 15-year-old lumad girl gang-raped by 3 soldiers in Davao del Norte last year.
Manano emphasized the significance of greater public attention to the appalling condition of marginalized children as the country prepares for the next presidential elections. ‘Under the Aquino government, children and their families plunged into deeper poverty and were subjected to violence with impunity. With this, the public should be more critical in selecting national leaders as the succeeding administration’s policies and programs will definitely impact the lives of children,’ said Manano.
‘Bilang bata, karapatan namin ang makilahok at mapakinggan! Ang Filipino Children’s Agenda 2016 ay sumasalamin sa aming naging kalagayan sa mga nakalipas na taon at lalo’t higit sa mga kahilingan namin. Sama-sama nating isulong ang tunay na agenda ng mga batang Pilipino – dahil ang gusto namin ay isang pamahalaan na may tunay na pagkalinga sa mamamayan, lalo na sa mga bata, sa susunod na salinlahi,’ said Vincent Diaz, 14-year old child representative to the SALINLAHI National Executive Council and spokesperson of Samahan ng mga Batang Lumalaban sa Kahirapan (SBLK).
Through spoken poetry, children from various sectors – workers, peasants, urban poor, human rights victims and typhoon Yolanda survivors – narrated their demands. ‘Nais naming mga bata na makabangon sa kahirapan ang aming pamilya, trabaho at kabuhayan para sa aming pamilya, lupa para sa mga magsasaka, libre at disenteng pabahay, libreng edukasyon at serbisyong pangkalusugan, paggalang sa aming karapatan at mapayapa at ligtas na kapaligiran,’ the children read in unison.
During the forum, SALINLAHI together with other child rights advocates pledged to uphold the children’s agenda by way of a symbolical mock election as children held their demands printed on placards. ‘Even after the May elections, we owe it to the Filipino children to safeguard their rights and welfare’, Manano ended.
SALINLAHI is also set to join the women’s protest on March 8, in commemoration of the International Women’s Day, to bring forth the demands of women and children. ###