Two Filipino boys in Zamboanga City - the other drives a pedicab and the second collects garbage - both are helping their parents earn a living. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 30, 2011) – A regional council for the protection of children is expected to be organized soon in Mindanao in an effort to keep minors away from danger, abuse and maltreatment, especially in environment unmindful of their rights, the state-run media Philippine Information Agency said.
It said the Department of Interior and Local Government in Western Mindanao has called on other government agencies to join an organizational meeting of the so-called Regional Inter-Agency Monitoring Task Force in Zamboanga City.
Regional Interior Director Faisal Abutazil said it will be the responsibility of the task force to lead the monitoring and evaluation of activity with regards to the functionality of the Local Council for the Protection of Children at the provincial level and highly urbanized cities and to come-up with recommended actions based on findings.
He said once organized, the task force would be there for the continuous support as partners for the welfare and development of the Filipino children.
The United Nations Children's Fund which works for children's rights, their survival, development and protection, said child protection encompasses all processes, policies, programs, interventions, and measures that aim to prevent and respond to violence, exploitation, and abuse against children, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the overall development of children to their fullest potential.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that every child has the right to protection from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
It said the Local Council for the Protection of Children is responsible for planning and spearheading programs for children in the locality with the end in view of making the locality child-friendly.
But it said the big challenge is how to convince all local government units to organize their own Council for the Protection of Children and, more importantly, how to encourage them to activate, strengthen, and sustain the already organized Local Council for the Protection of Children.
In Zamboanga City, many poor children have abandoned their studies in exchange for begging in the streets. Many of them resort to working dangerous jobs to help their family earn money to buy food.
In the city’s garbage dumpsite in Lumbangan village, many children, some of them as young as four-years old, are already collecting scraps unmindful of the filthy environment and hazards to their health, just to help their parents earn a living.
Many street children are also addicted to chemical solvents and had been involved in petty crimes. In 2009, a 14-year old boy, Benjamin Mariga, was brutally murdered in Zamboanga City after he was arrested along with several street children accused of robbery. (Mindanao Examiner)