The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has joined hands with the international community in commemorating today, May 25, the adoption of two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by the United Nations General Assembly.
CHR Spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia explained that the 1st Optional Protocol improves the protection of children in contexts of armed conflict — from recruitment and use in hostilities.
The 2nd Optional Protocol, De Guia said, emphasizes the protection of children from trafficking, prostitution, and pornography.
Since they were adopted, the implementation of these two protocols has been gaining momentum all over the world, she said.
She pointed out that in the Philippines, there has been a big leap in support of the 2nd Optional Protocol since Senate Bill No. 2209 was approved on second reading.
However, De Guia said there is still much to be done in terms of protecting children from armed conflict. Up to this day, Filipino children are sadly being used in armed conflict, she said.
In the cases it has monitored, she said, the CHR discovered that children are being used as spies, lookouts, messengers, couriers, or errand girls and boys. “Because of the armed conflict in their areas, these children end up with physical disabilities, while others lose their lives while carrying out their roles, she added.
The CHR, she stressed, is urging the government to improve the enforcement of pertinent laws, such as Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; RA 9851 or Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity; and RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act.
These laws, she pointed out, will help control the involvement of children in armed conflict.