Advocates unite for child rights-related bills in the 17th Congress

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November 3, 2016

Members of the Child Rights Network (CRN) reconfirmed their commitment to pursue legislative action for children’s rights during the first CRN General Meeting held on October 28.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) facilitated the discussion on the updates and strategies for the priority and secondary agenda of Child Rights Network. CRN’s priority legislative agenda for the 17th Congress are: 1) protecting the current minimum age of criminal responsibility; 2) promotion of positive discipline and banning corporal punishment of children; and 3) institutionalizing health and nutrition interventions at the First 1,000 Days as well as expanded maternity protection.

Advocacy teams are being mobilized to secure co-authorship for House Resolution 241 filed by Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, calling on the relevant congressional committee to conduct an oversight hearing on the on the level of implementation of Republic Act No. 9344 or Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, as amended by RA 10630. The teams are also communicating with individual legislators to consolidate support for the preservation of the current minimum age of criminal responsibility.

CRN also lauds child rights champions, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Senator Risa Hontiveros, for their efforts in ensuring the passage of the Positive Discipline bill in both houses. Advocacy activities will be conducted to build support for this issue.

With regard to nutrition-related bills, the First 1,000 Days and expanded maternity protection are gaining ground in both houses of Congress. Both bills were deliberated at the committee level in the Senate, while the expanded maternity protection bill passed the Committee on Women and Gender Equality in the House of Representatives. The hearing for the First 1,000 Days in the House Committee on Health is scheduled on November 9 this year.

The secondary legislative agenda includes: 1) increasing the age to determine statutory rape; 2) amendment to AIDS Law; 3) protection of children in situations of armed conflict; 4) civil registration and vital statistics; 5) NDRRM Law review and 6) review of five child protection laws and functionality of the Local Councils for the Protection of Children. Constant monitoring will be conducted for the secondary agenda.

CRN also discussed the plans for the celebration of Children’s Month in November during the meeting. Advocacy activities will be conducted inside and outside of Congress. These activities and the other efforts of CRN will be accomplished with the support of UNICEF.

Child Rights Network is an alliance of government and non-government organizations advocating for the enactment of policies that will protect and fulfill the rights of Filipino children. PLCPD currently serves as CRN’s convenor.

In pursuit of the vision to develop CRN into a national network of child rights advocates, CRN plans to expand its membership to include region-based CSOs. For organizations interested in joining CRN, please contact PLCPD through Ms. Daphne Valdez at daphne.valdez@plcpd.org.ph or (02) 709-6480. All CRN members are expected to commit to carrying and supporting the legislative agenda of the network.