Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged public and private basic education institutions to activate their Child Protection Committees (CPCs) to protect learners against violence and abuses.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, made the call over mounting student reports of sexual harassment at the hands of teachers, which have gained social media traction.
“Hindi natin dapat pinapalagpas ang ano mang uri ng pang-aabuso o karahasan sa ating mga kabataan sa tahanan man o sa paaralan (We should not be avoid or elude any kind of abuse or violence against our youth whether inside their home or school),” Gatchalian said.
“Dahil sa panganib na maaaring umakyat pa ang bilang ng mga kaso ng karahasan at pang-aabuso ngayong nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya, lalo nating dapat paigtingin ang mga hakbang upang bigyan ng proteksyon ang mga kabataan, (Due to fears the number of cases of violence and abuses can climb now that we are in the middle of a pandemic, we should strengthen efforts to provide protection to our young people),” the senator stressed.
Gatchalian further underscored the need to ensure that CPCs remain vigilant and proactive in monitoring and handling sexual harassment and other child abuse cases since the postponement of face-to-face classes do not automatically remove such threat.
Reports recently surfaced that some high school students from Miriam College had complained of sexual harassment and emotional manipulation committed by some teachers. The issue is now being investigated by the Department of Education (DepEd).
The lawmaker also warned that aside from abusive school personnel, learners are also at an increased risk of violence at home, where most learning will take place when classes reopen.
The creation of CPCs was mandated in DepEd’s Department Order No. 40 s. 2012, which outlines the department’s child protection policy.
Under the DO, CPCs are tasked to create schools’ child protection policies, identify learners who may be experiencing abuse and exploitation, and to report cases involving child abuse.
CPCs are also expected to coordinate with the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Desks (PNP-WCPD) the Local Social Welfare and Development Office (LSWDO), other government agencies, and non-government organizations (NGOs).
Citing data from the PNP-WCPD, the President’s 6th report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act or Republic Act 11469, Gatchalian said there are already 521 reported cases of crimes against children as of April 30. By June 11, the cases soared to 2,077.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) also reported last May 25 that cases of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) surged by 264 percent.
According to the DOJ Office of Cybercrime, 279,166 OSEC cases were recorded from March 1 to May 24, in stark contrast from the figures given during the same period last year, where only 76,561 cases were recorded.