Friday, August 9, 2013

President Aquino steps up protection of children’s rights in armed conflict

From the Website of PIA

President Aquino steps up protection of children’s rights in armed conflict

MANILA, Aug. 9 -- President Benigno S. Aquino III has revamped the Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Armed Conflict (IAC-CIAC) under an executive order aimed at further strengthening the government’s program for the protection of children against armed hostilities, abuse and exploitation.
Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Thursday that President Aquino signed on August 2 Executive Order No. 138 amending Executive Order No. 56 (S. 2001), and places the IAC-CIAC under the direct supervision of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), instead of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Under EO No. 138, the CWC will be the lead agency in the implementation of the CIAC Program Framework, which addresses the alarming involvement of children in armed conflict, either as combatants, couriers, spies, medics, cooks or their recruitment for sexual purposes, among others. The council will also be in charge of coordinating and monitoring of the program framework at all levels.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development had earlier sought the establishment of the Monitoring, Reporting and Response System for Grave Child Rights’ Violations (MRRS-GCRV) in situations of armed conflict to be headed by the CWC in order step up government response to the problem of children being recruited, killed, maimed and abused in areas of armed hostilities.

“Given the commonalities between the existing CIAC Program Framework implemented by the OPAPP and the proposed MRRS to be implemented by the CWC, and in line with the policy of streamlining government functions to avoid duplication of efforts, EO No. 56 is hereby amended to incorporate the proposed MRRS and reorganize the IAC-CIAC, thus strengthening the CIAC Program Framework,” Ochoa explained.

The MRRS-GCRV will now serve as the monitoring arm of the inter-agency committee.

The OPAPP remains a member of the inter-agency committee, along with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR); the Departments of Education (DepEd), Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Health (DOH), National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines (DND-AFP), Justice (DOJ), and Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); the Philippine National Police (PNP); the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC); and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).

In line with the enhancement of the CIAC Program Framework and the new set-up, Ochoa said, the CWC and member-agencies are mandated to craft a memorandum of agreement to define and delineate their functions and duties within 60 days after the presidential directive takes effect.

EO No. 138 also mandates the IAC-CIAC to observe all international instruments on upholding the rights and welfare of children and other related human rights treaties in all initiatives in the formulation of guidelines and programs for the handling of children involved in armed conflict, among others. It should also conduct training, advocacy and information campaigns and capacity-building of local government units (LGUs).

The Philippines is a state party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

President Aquino also ordered national government agencies to formulate and integrate the program framework in their annual programs and projects in consultation with the CWC.

“LGUs of areas affected by armed conflict may also develop and implement complementary programs to carry out the enhanced CIAC Program Framework in coordination with the CWC,” Ochoa said.

Funding for the implementation of the CIAC Program Framework will come from the current appropriations of participating agencies and subsequent funding for the implementation of the CIAC Program Framework will be incorporated in their respective regular appropriations.

EO No. 138 takes effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.(OES)

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