There are five core issues that Filipino children are most concerned about — corporal punishment, child labor, lack of youth participation in important matters, lack of basic services, and early pregnancy.
This is what the youth revealed during the online launch of Children Talk to Children (C2C) Filipino Children’s Report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on Wednesday morning. It is an alternative report submitted to the UN CRC back in March, which was crafted by C2C in coordination with 15 of its member organizations.
During the launch, child leaders said that they weren’t fully aware of their rights until they started working on the report which will be shared with government agencies and non-government organizations for their use in promoting children-oriented programs.
“We have conducted surveys, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), workshops, and consultations wherein our fellow children shared issues they are experiencing as well as their recommendations to solve the issues they shared,” the report stated.
With regards to the issue of child labor, one of the child leaders said that they collected data from children in Batangas, Cavite, Caloocan, and Laguna in 2011, 2014, and 2015. The children they talked to revealed they are child laborers and they are often forced into situations that pose a threat to their lives and health.
In Luzon, children are working as farmers in sugarcane plantations and rice fields in Batangas. They work as vendors, tricycle drivers, and car wash crews in Trece Martires, Cavite; and they scavenge plastic and paper scraps in Caloocan City. Children are also hired as factory workers for slipper production in Laguna.
In Visayas, children are forced to work as domestic helpers especially after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda. They also make a living as “traffic enforcers” to aid in ongoing road construction projects.
In Mindanao, children from the indigenous communities are working as farmers and laborers in cornfields.
In order to eradicate child labor, the child leaders suggested that the government develop and implement livelihood programs for parents so that their families will have a steady source of income and their children will get to have a proper education and enjoy their childhood.
As to the issue of early pregnancy, child leaders recommended that the government conduct awareness drives and educate parents on how to discuss reproductive health with their children.
Child leaders also complained about corporal punishment, which is the physical and humiliating punishments imposed by adults, as well as lack of basic services from the government especially for families living along riversides and other waterways. Off-city relocation sites might sound ideal for some but child leaders lamented that these lack basic social services such as education, access to healthcare, water and electricity, and employment opportunities for adults.
Child leaders said they wish to become more active in important matters that are taking place in their communities.
They are grateful that the current administration has taken strides to uplift their voices. Children leaders lauded the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for being their champions.
If they have a chance to send a message to President Duterte, one of the child leaders said that he should read their report with an open mind.
“Buksan natin ang ating isipan, dahil itong report ay ginawa sa isang mahabang proseso at kami ang tunay na nakakaranas ng ganitong isyu (Let us open our minds, because this report was made through a long and arduous process. We are the ones who are truly experiencing these issues),” he said.
“Nananawagan kami sa kanya na sa bawat hakbang o desisyon na gagawin niya, isangalala ang mga karapatan ng mga bata at isipin kung makakabuti o makakasama ito sa bata (We are appealing to him that for every step that he will take or a decision that he will make, he should take into consideration the rights of the children and think whether or not this will benefit or harm the children),” he added.
The C2C is a national coalition of 19 children-led organizations working for the advancement of Filipino children’s rights and welfare. The report was finalized with the support of Samahan ng Mamamayan-Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO) and Save the Children Philippines.