Legarda Urges Gov’t To Formulate Child-Centered Disaster Protection ProgramJuly 14, 2015
Senator Loren Legarda today urged the government to formulate a comprehensive child-centered emergency program to be implemented immediately upon the declaration of a national or local state of calamity to protect children and support their immediate recovery.
“Over the past decades, the frequency and magnitude of natural hazards have increased due to climate change. Children suffer the most at the onset and aftermath of humanitarian emergencies because they are still dependent on adults, whether parents, relatives or guardians. Proper planning can help mitigate the impacts of natural hazards and man-made disasters on children,” Legarda said.
In 2013, when the country was hit by several crises, namely, Typhoon Haiyan, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, and the Zamboanga City siege, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that 41.5% or 7.4 million out of the 17.8 million total affected population were children.
“During disasters or emergency situations, children are gravely threatened or endangered by circumstances that will affect their survival and normal development. It is the duty of government to establish and implement a strategic program of action to provide our children affected by disasters, calamities and other emergency situations with utmost support and assistance necessary for their immediate recovery and to protect them against all forms of abuse and exploitation,” said Legarda.
In line with this, the Senator has filed Senate Bill No. 2502 or An Act Providing Emergency Relief and Protection for Children During Disasters, Calamities and other Emergency Situations. If enacted, the measure will mandate the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), to formulate a Comprehensive Emergency Program for Children upon the declaration of a national or a local state of calamity.
The program aims to ensure continued support for children’s needs even during disasters through the establishment of shelters for displaced children, immediate delivery of basic necessities and services, timely delivery of health and medical services, measures to ensure safety and security, a plan of action for prompt resumption of educational services for children, establishment of an emergency center, and promotion of children’s rights.
The measure seeks to help children’s lives get back to normal as soon as possible, particularly with their education.
“It is but natural that classes will be put on hold for weeks or even months after a disaster strikes because of ruined classrooms and facilities. Hence, the bill requires the Department of Education to provide optimal learning environments where temporary learning spaces or transitional and semi-permanent learning structures are used after the declaration of a state of calamity,” said Legarda.