Gatchalian urges gov’t to uphold welfare, the safety of children amid Taal unrest

Gatchalian urges gov’t to uphold welfare, the safety of children amid Taal unrest

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — As residents near Taal Volcano face the combined threats of COVID-19
and a possible explosive volcanic eruption, Senator Win Gatchalian is
urging the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare
and Development (DSWD), and local government units (LGUs) to ensure
the welfare and safety of children amid evacuation efforts.

Aside from the establishment of child-friendly spaces, Gatchalian
seeks the timely provision of basic necessities and services such as
food, water, nutrition, medicines, sanitary, and hygiene kits,
psychosocial interventions, and other items needed for emergency
situations.

The provision of these necessities and services are mandated by
Republic Act No. 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and
Protection Act. The law mandates the DSWD to formulate a Comprehensive
Emergency Program for Children (CEPC), which should be used as the
the basis for handling disasters and other emergency situations to protect
and support the immediate recovery of children and pregnant and
lactating mothers.

At least 124,000 children were displaced when the Taal Volcano erupted
in 2020, according to the children’s organization Save the Children.

Gatchalian also pointed out the vulnerability of children, especially
young girls, to abuse and exploitation in times of calamities.
According to a 2017 study by Dr. Gloria Luz M. Nelson, a social
science researcher of the Department of Science and Technology DOST –
National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST – NRCP), girls aged
10-19 are most likely to get molested or pregnant with the length of
their stay in evacuation centers. The study looked at how teenage
girls in Eastern Visayas were affected by Typhoons Yolanda and Ruby in
2013 and 2014, respectively.

The Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act also mandates
heightened comprehensive measures and monitoring to prevent all forms
of domestic and sexual violence in areas under a state of calamity.

“Ngayong hinaharap ng mga kabataan ang pinagsamang panganib ng
pandemya at posibleng malakas na pagsabog ng bulkang Taal, dapat
nating tiyakin ang kanilang kaligtasan mula sa pagkakasakit at
pang-aabuso,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic
Education, Arts and Culture.

To address issues that evacuees commonly face such as congestion,
exposure to hazards, and lack of facilities, Gatchalian seeks the
establishment of structurally sound evacuation centers in every city
and municipality, which is the objective of Senate Bill No. 747 filed
in 2019. (ai/mtvn)

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