By Ellson Quismorio
The chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children is pushing for the swift approval of the proposed Magna Carta for Children to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Tingog Party-List Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez said the Magna Carta for Children aims to strengthen economic and social protection for Filipino minors who comprise almost half of the nation’s population, or around 50 million.
“Unlike other sectors of society, children are inherently vulnerable. They cannot, on their own, participate in nation-building. They need their families, the government and the wider community, to provide the requisite care, guidance, health and education services especially in their early formative years,” Romualdez said in a statement Monday.
This, she noted, was the reason why her House panel has made crafting the magna carta for children its topmost priority so that it could be immediately passed. The measure has hurdled the Committee level last week.
“Guided by the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we are set to draft a more comprehensive legislative measure that will not only encourage the protection of children from threats and harm, but more importantly ensure positive support for the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential,” she said.
The lady solon noted that the passage of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child three decades ago has inspired nations and communities, including the Philippines, to embrace the moral obligation to ensure the welfare and well-being of children, especially the neglected and the disadvantaged.
In 1992, Republic Act (RA) No. 7610 was enacted to provide stronger deterrence and special protection against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination. In 2003, RA No. 9231 was passed to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and institute stronger protection for working children.
Three years later, Congress passed the landmark legislation RA 9344, later amended by RA 10630, the Juvenile Justice Act, and in 2009, RA 9775, the anti-child pornography law.
In recent years, three more child welfare laws were passed, Republic Act No. 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, Republic Act No. 10165 or the Foster Care Act and recently, in the Seventeenth Congress, Republic Act No. 11188, which assures special protection for children in situations of armed conflict.
Romualdez’s husband, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, assured the public that the current House leadership will go “all out” for the protection and welfare of children.
“Ang mensahe naman ni Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano ay ‘Huwag kayong mag-alala.’ (Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is ‘Don’t worry.’) We will go all out for the children. Particularly this year and onward,” said Majority Leader Romualdez, who on Monday afternoon was invited to talk during the opening of an exhibit at the House of Representatives’s South Lobby.
The exhibit was in celebration of National Children’s Month.
“Lalapit din tayo sa ating mga kaibigan sa Senado (We will also approach our friends in the Senate). We shall give you all out support in the legislation and policies,” added the Majority Leader, who attended the event on behalf of the Speaker.
Referring to a child speaker at the event who appealed to the legislators to lend minors an ear in the crafting of laws, Majority Leader Romualdez said: “Precious, wag kayo mag-alala. Yung mga hinaing mo, yung mga hinihingi mo, gagawin nating lahat.”
(Precious, don’t worry. Your concerns, your requests, we will do them all.)
“Ako bilang isang ama…yung anak kong babae na pinakamantanda, kasing tanda mo, kaka-12 years old lang last week. Mayroon pa akong bunsong anak na babae na four years old. Lahat ng mga sinasabi mo, nandito po sa puso natin,” he added.
(As a father…my eldest daughter is as old as you, she just turned 12 last week. My youngest child is a four-year-old girl. All that you’re saying is here in my heart.)