Children Now More Protected During Calamities as President Aquino Signs Historic Bill

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Save the Children, an organization working in the Philippines for 35 years to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm, lauds the signing into law of the ‘Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act’ or RA 10821, by President Aquino today.

This landmark legislation is the first of its kind in Asia, and establishes a new global standard for accountability to children. The new legislation will require the development of a country-wide emergency plan to provide special protection and improved relief assistance to children affected by calamities and crises.

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Ned Olney, Save the Children Country Director, who was also present at the signing, said: “We know from experience that when disasters strike, children are always the most vulnerable. We commend President Aquino for signing the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act. This legislation provides specific legal protection to children, it ensures that children have targeted humanitarian intervention, and that government services and communities are better prepared for future disasters.”

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“The signing into law of the “Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection” Act takes place a few days before the World Humanitarian Summit opens in Istanbul on 23 May 2016. As one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, Save the Children says the Philippines send a strong signal to world leaders that children caught in disasters must be better protected.

Save the Children says that new law mandates that Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Office of Civil Defense lead other national agencies in the creation of a comprehensive emergency program that will provide key services such as improved family tracing for unaccompanied minors, disaggregated data collection to identify children, training on child-focused response, expedited restoration of lost civil documents, and establishes a limit to the use of schools as evacuation centers.

Olney added, “Together, we have achieved an enormous victory for children. Now the real work begins, as we need to work double time so that the reforms will immediately benefit and protect children in the next crisis.” 

“We urge the next Philippine administration to support and fast-track the drafting of Implementing Rules and Regulations of this important legislation before the typhoon season begins.” 

Ola Almgren, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator welcomed this positive development: 

“With its exposure to natural hazards and frequent recurrence of humanitarian events; the Philippines has developed great capacity and is a regional leader in both emergency preparedness and response.  The Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act further reinforces this position and ensures that children’s rights are upheld and not forgotten in emergency situations.  It is a very welcome addition to the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management architecture and we look forward to continuing our work in support of its implementation as well as in the further reduction of disaster risk and strengthening of emergency management capacities for the Philippines.“            

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The Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act was strongly supported by the Children’s Welfare Committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Initially filed by child-rights advocate Representative Susan Yap (Tarlac, 2nd District) in 2014, the bill was based on findings of the biggest organizations working with children in the aftermath of ‘Yolanda’. The consultations showed the necessity to enhance services for children affected by calamities and the great need for official and systematic effort that allows children to express their views and concerns post-disaster. 

What do you think of this bill giving specific protection and aid to children hit by calamities?

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