WITH the consent of my principal, I represented the Department of Education Division of Baguio City in the workshop in Updating of the Local Development Plan for Children (LDPC) held at Ecolodge at Magsasay Road last week. I said the topic is of my interest and I saw it as an opportunity to deepen my understanding on child development.
The event was spearheaded by the City Social Welfare and Development Office. Government and non-government organizations promoting children’s welfare were invited. The Commission Human Rights was represented by its young and dynamic director. There’s also the Liga ng ma Barangay, Sangguniang Panlungsod, SK Federation, City Prosecutors Office, City Administration Office, City Budget Office (CBO), DILG –City Field Office, Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGH), BJMP - both male and female dormitories, Health Service Office (HSO), City Planning and Development Office, Local Civil Registry Office, CMO- Special Services Division and Public Information Office, SLU Sunflower Children’s Center, Baguio Center for Young Adults (BCYA), Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA), Save our School Children Foundation, Inc., Helping Hands, Healing Hand Ministries, Child and Family Services Philippines, Inc., Federation of BCPC and Federation of Pag-asa Youth Association.
It is only appropriate to commend the organizing body for being serious in promoting children’s development. I understand this is part of the report to be submitted to the national office in compliance to the programs and projects on children’s welfare and development but I heard that Baguio City is one of many cities and municipalities in the country that performs well in taking care of its children. Being a finalist in the national competition for a child-friendly city is a testament. Sad part is, not all of the invited organizations were represented during the planning. It is imperative to hear the voice of each of these organizations to fully understand the situation of children in the city.
The body acknowledges that children’s welfare and development is of paramount concern considering that they will be our future leaders. It must be understood that these organizations which are directly involved in child’s care should continue to find and offer ways for all children in the city to reach their full potential. That’s why before the actual formulation of the 3-year plan, Director Evelyn Trinidad of the DILG Field Office presented the legal bases of children’s development and a brief background of the programs of the government regarding the matter. The Integrated Frameworks on Children was also discussed for familiarity on children’s significance and their rights.
The children’s rights are categorized in 4, namely; Survival, Development, Protection, and Participation. Under survival, a child is provided the right to life, right to health, right to social security, right to adequate standard of living, and right to parental care and support. Development covers a child’s right to education, right to information, right to rest and leisure, right to enjoy one’s culture and religion, and right of the disabled child to special care. Protection rights include the right to a name, nationality and identity, right to privacy, right to be protected from abuse and neglect, right to be protected from commercial & sexual exploitation, right to be safe in emergency or especially difficult circumstances, right to legal assistance & appropriate judicial processes. Lastly, participation mandates the society as a whole to provide the children the right to participate in activities, programs, and discussions as a need for their holistic development and satisfy their right of representation. We would formulate a plan for the development of children based on these four categories and for easier planning the organizations were distributed to these four areas based on their mandates.
If we strictly honor and recognized these rights of children, there should be no neglected children in the city, or being abused in all manners but data would show that not all aspects of children’s rights are being provided. For instance, we still have data of malnourished and wasted children. We still have out of school youths. We cannot not zero out this data for sure but with the serious implementation of a plan in favor of children, it is hoped that the data decreased. Some of the gray areas where we need to work out are the lack of knowledge of children on the different types of abuses, lack of birth records of some children as attested by the civil registry office, lack of assistance for some minors such as educational assistance, psychological help, or skill development. We have included these concerns among others and suggested activities to fulfill our objectives and hope that the city will provide the sufficient budget to make this plan work.
I am also pleased to be informed of non-government institutions that work on children’s care. Others may not know about these organizations. There is the SLU Sunflower Children’s Center which provides psychological treatment for children (plus other services), Baguio Center for Young Adults (BCYA) which advocates the learning of life skills among young adults, Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) located beside BGH which conduct psychological tests among other services, Save our School Children Foundation, Inc. which provide financial assistance for learners especially IPs. They also offer Alternative Learning System type of education. Helping Hands, Healing Hand Ministries which provide care for abandoned and neglected children. Service is free. Child and Family Services Philippines, Inc. which assist children who suffered abused.
I am sure that with the full implementation of the plan, Baguio City can be a sort of paradise for children.
The Health Services Office laments the low turnout of students taking advantage of the immunization program of the Department of Health (DOH). Medical staff from the office would go school to school but there is low percentage of those who avail. I hope that school heads and teachers encourage their students to be vaccinated especially now that the cases of oral polio and diphtheria are rising.