A children’s rights organization has called on Local Government Units (LGUs) to establish a comprehensive emergency plan to protect children in times of calamities.
Lawyer Alberto Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines, said children are greatly affected by human-induced and natural calamities.
“When they are placed in emergency situations, their only means to survive is to depend on adults for protection and developmental needs,” he said.
In 2016, the Philippines enacted the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act mandating LGUs to create a Comprehensive Emergency Program for Children (CEPC).
Under the law, LGUs must implement social protection programs to ensure the well-being of Filipino children, and pregnant and lactating mothers before, during, and after disasters and other emergency situations. The emergency program should take into consideration the humanitarian standards in the protection of children.
However, many local governments across the country still “do not have a CEPC in place,” according to Save the Children Philippines.
“We urge the Department of the Interior and Local Government to prioritize the development and roll-out of CEPC and its localization across all 1,700 LGUs,” said Muyot, adding that the institutionalization of the program will help children and communities “recover immediately” from a disaster.
Provisions of the law also provide that evacuation centers should be established and there should be transitional shelters for orphaned, separated, and unaccompanied children, which must include gender-specific emergency latrines, bathing cubicles, and hand-washing facilities designed for children.
Stronger measures must be enforced to ensure the safety, security, and prevention of child trafficking, child labor, and other forms of exploitation. A plan of action must be created to bring affected children back to school.