Tacloban City, Leyte province back child protection bill during calamities
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines - This city’s government and the Leyte Provincial Council, two of the most battered areas by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), signed resolutions pushing for the passage of House Bill 5285 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act to support children in times of disasters.
Because of the two local government’s experience during Yolanda, Tacloban City and Leyte are key sources of support for the bill, which seeks to provide enhanced relief and protection for vulnerable children caught in disasters.
HB 5285 proposes that national agencies, led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), develop a comprehensive plan to enhance services, and increase protection and services for children before, during, and after disasters.
Other noteworthy provisions include:
- improved family tracing for unaccompanied minors
- disaggregated data collection to identify children
- trainings on child-focused response
- restoration of civil documents
- setting up a mechanism to limit use of schools as evacuation centers
The children’s bill which was filed by Representative Susan Yap of the 2nd District of Tarlac in the House of Representatives in September 2014. It has been approved on the 3rd Reading last January 2015. There are currently 6 similar measures pending at the Senate.
Civil society support
Save the Children (STC), the world’s leading independent children’s rights organization, which is also pushing for the passage of the bill, hailed Tacloban and Leyte’s move.
“Thousands of lives were lost in Tacloban and across Leyte to Typhoon Yolanda. Their children bore the brunt of the destruction and sorrow. These communities understand the critical importance of passing the (bill). We welcome this support and we strongly urge the Congress and Senate to pass this quickly before the next typhoon season,” Ned Olney, Save the Children country director, said.
Save the Children on Wednesday, June 24, conducted a policy forum to discuss the bill with over 100 representatives from LGUs, non-government organizations, community leaders, and children in Tacloban.
HB 5285 is seen as a result of the many lessons learned by the national and local government during Yolanda.
“We believe that the support of our local government units (LGUs) and the public sends a message that no child should ever die again to a Typhoon,” Olney added. – Rappler.com