THE Tacloban City Government and Leyte Provincial Board have signed resolutions pushing for the passage of House Bill 5285, or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, a groundbreaking bill that seeks to provide enhanced relief and protection for vulnerable children caught in disasters.

The bill was filed by Tarlac second district Representative Susan Yap in September 2014 and was approved on third reading last January 2015.

The province of Leyte and its capital, Tacloban City, are critical areas of support for the bill, as they were among the areas ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and were considered the "center" of disaster in November 2013.

“Thousands of lives were lost in Tacloban and across Leyte to Typhoon Yolanda. Their children bore the brunt of the destruction and sorrow. These communities understand the critical importance of passing the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act. We welcome this support and we strongly urge the Congress and Senate to pass this quickly before the next typhoon season,” said Ned Olney, Save the Children country director, as he thanked the provincial and local government units (LGUs) for their overwhelming support.

“We believe that the support of our local government units and the public sends a message that no child should ever die again to a typhoon,” he added.

The bill proposes that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other national agencies develop a comprehensive plan to enhance services, increase protection and services for children before, during and after disasters.

Some of the noteworthy provisions include: improved family tracing for unaccompanied minors, disaggregated data collection to identify children, trainings on child-focused response, restoration of civil documents and setting up a mechanism to limit use of schools are not used as evacuation over an extended period of time.

Today, the Save the Children holds a policy forum to discuss the bill with over 100 representatives from LGUs, non-government organizations, community leaders and children in Tacloban.

In a short ceremony during the forum, Save the Children awarded plaques of appreciation to the province of Leyte, Tacloban City and over 10 municipalities across Leyte for passing resolutions of support addressed to the Senate and House of Representatives.

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent children’s rights organization, with members in 29 countries and operational programs in 120. (PR)