The way children are regarded and protected is a reflection of a community, says HLAF for the Children’s Month Celebration ‘17

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista

With the theme “Karahasan Wakasan, Bata Protektahan”, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF) sees that in this year’s celebration of Children’s Month, the theme incorporates all issues concerning children and wants to establish that the way children are regarded and protected is a reflection of a community and its people.

As a member of the Child Rights Network, this week-long celebration serves as a platform to promote the campaign towards strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act and oppose lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old as filed on the Senate Bill 1603: Amending RA 9344 by Sen. Franklin Drilon.

The network has made a line-up of activities that will run from November 20 to 22 in the House of Representatives. It serves as an opportunity to commence the activity and tap people from different sectors to be aware of the current situation of children in the society.

“Mr. President, today is a good day to be reminded of the state's responsibility to "provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty exploitation and discrimination and other conditions, prejudicial to their development." Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros quoted in her speech during the Celebration of National Children's Month and the United Nations' Universal Children's Day.

The series of activities started with the caravan participated with the members of the CRN and HLAF’s barangay partners composed of BCPC members and children from the barangay. Participants were gathered at the Quezon City Memorial Circle and went to the lobby of the House of Representatives. The traditional ribbon cutting marks the start of the program which was made by the invited speakers and child advocates who also shared their messages. Various child advocates from different partner organizations also showed their support by attending the opening program.

Each of the organizations is also given the chance to set-up a booth as a way of introducing their organizations in the participants of the event. After the opening program, all of the participants also attend the Plenary Session in the North Wing of the HOR which was attended by 232 house members. During the opening of the session, two choir groups, whose members are all children showcased their talents as they sang the prayer and Philippine National Anthem.

All of the activities made during the day involves the great participation of the children and the youth and highlighted their importance in nation building. The network also sees this as an avenue towards raising awareness about the importance of the proper implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act among every unit in the country. 

“Naniniwala ang HLAF na ang maling pagpaparusa sa kanila ay pagpapakita ng karahasan sa mga bata. (HLAF believes that unfair punishment to the children signifies violence against children). The responsibility of society for child protection is never ending. It is everyone’s business!” HLAF’s Senior Social Worker, Mr. Jun Tumamao, RSW, quoted in relation to this year’s Children’s Month Celebration to the current move to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old.