On World Children’s Day, NCCP commits to uphold #NoChildLeftBehind

World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20th November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare. It was on that date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the same date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In solidarity with this significant event, the ecumenical community is encouraged to reflect on the situation and challenges faced by the children and strengthen our commitment to upholding their dignity and rights.

The worsening poverty and unemployment situation in the country continues to be the underlying factors that resulted in the rise in cases of violence and exploitation of children in different forms. Moreover, according to UNICEF (2020), 1.8 billion children living in 104 countries, including the Philippines, are at risk due to the disrupted violence prevention and response services. Children also suffered the impacts of school closure and the implementation of distant learning related to their development and mental health. Amid the pandemic, rights violations committed to children during lockdown were also reported.

We call on the Philippine government as the primary duty bearer and signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to escalate its response in addressing the welfare and protection of children amid the continuing impact of the pandemic and the worsening human rights and socio-economic situation. As the government eases the lockdown alert level, it must prioritize adequate funding and services for health and quality and relevant education for the children. Furthermore, the government must execute a comprehensive government plan that will address the vulnerabilities and risks of children to exploitation and abuse.

We commend our member churches that continue to conduct programs that serve the emerging needs of children in our churches and the communities. Moreover, we call on our churches to integrate child rights education in their ministries and create child protection/safeguarding policies and programs. These and other initiatives that promote the dignity and rights of children can be our concrete actions in affirming that children are not left behind.

Furthermore, in light of the coming 2022 national elections, we urge candidates to prioritize the full implementation of laws and the crafting of laws that guarantee the protection of children against violence, abuse, and exploitation. More importantly, we call on the electorate to choose candidates who have a good track record and will push for the rights and interests of children.

As Jesus said, , “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9: 37). If we truly welcome Jesus in our lives, we must “welcome” the responsibilities of nurturing, protecting, and defending the dignity and rights of children.

The NCCP affirms and upholds the valuable contribution of children in pursuing the vision for Shalom. Their views and voices must be heard and recognized. Motivated by our faith and ecumenical commitment, we vow to continue our solidarity with the struggle for a just, peaceful, and nurturing society for children.

20 November 2021

Signed:

REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
Chairperson

RT. REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
Vice – Chairperson

DR. GAY B. MANODON
Vice – Chairperson

MA. KAY CATHERINE F. ALMARIO
Vice – Chairperson

MAJOR ALLAIN M. NIETES
Corporate Treasurer

BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA
General Secretary

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[1] https://www.bworldonline.com/child-protection-in-the-time-of-covid/

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