Law improving children’s protection signed

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino signed yesterday a law improving care and protection for children affected by disasters and increasing accountability among communities that will fail to ensure their welfare.

Republic Act 10821, or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, establishes a comprehensive emergency program to protect children and support their immediate recovery.

The law requires a heightened surveillance against child trafficking and other violence against children in the aftermath of disasters and calamities, a system of restoring civil documents for children and their families, and protection against exploitation.

It also paves the way for an increase in children’s participation in disaster-risk reduction planning and post-disaster needs assessments, less disruption of education activities with the reduced use of schools as evacuation centers and proper use of temporary learning spaces, improved care and steps for family tracing and reunification for unaccompanied and separated children.

Aquino said the law was needed, as children are the most vulnerable in times of disaster, accidents and other unexpected developments.

He said the provisions in the law were actually included in the existing strategy under the disaster risk reduction and management, but the steps and processes that must be taken for the children must be strengthened and made formal.

Aquino said the accountability of all sectors of society must also be clear in ensuring the welfare of the children before, during and after disasters, in order to lay down the foundation for the proper care of children.

“The mandate of the local and national governments to build child-friendly spaces, evacuation centers, transitional shelters with facilities for the needs of children and pregnant mothers becomes stronger,” the President said.

He said the law also requires the immediate provision of children’s basic needs in times of disaster, including food, clothing, education and medical services.

The President said it would strengthen the security and safety of Filipino children through child-responsive training programs for all responders in calamity hit areas. – With Rainier Allan Ronda

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