By Francis Wakefield
The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday joined other government agencies during the signing in Quezon City of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 11888 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act.
The law, which was signed on January 10, 2019, covers all children below 18 who are involved in, affected by, or displaced by armed conflicts.
The law, it was recalled, seeks to protect children in situations of armed conflict (CSAC) from all forms of abuse, violence, cruelty, and discrimination.
Director Arsenio Andolong, the chief of the DND’s Public Affairs Office, said Defense Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo A. David, Jr. was on hand during the signing, representing Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana.
The signing was held at Novotel, Cubao, Quezon City.
He said the signing of the IRR for the law is a powerful or strong tool to help protect children in situations of armed conflict, particularly in Mindanao.
Chaired by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), the other members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict (IAC-CSAC), include the DND, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Children who are members of displaced families, physically weakened, orphaned or disabled, combatants and those mobilized for other armed conflict-related activities and disrupted from schooling, due to armed conflict, are considered Children in Situations of Armed Conflict.
Children are recruited and forced to become soldiers due to the fact that they can be easily manipulated and that their innocence are being abused.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund or UNICEF estimated that in the Philippines alone, some 30,000 to 50,000 children are displaced every year as a result of armed conflict.
UNICEF, it was recalled, was established on December 11, 1946 by the United Nations to meet the emergency needs of children in post-war Europe and China.