Manila, Philippines – A group of children advocates urge voters to demand transparency and accountability from political candidates and make them place the causes of children in their platforms, openly discuss these during sorties and fulfill all their campaign promises when they are elected.
The “Bata Muna” campaign, an advocacy that seeks to put forward the issues of children, in yesterday’s media briefing, February 27, children experts stressed on the gaps in government programs and policies and the need to improve children’s access to government services.
WomenHealth Philippines’ May-i Fabros argued that there is no point for candidates to hide behind motherhood statements. “The candidates must openly speak of their programs for children so voters will know who among them have concrete programs for our children.”
“It is not enough that they have campaign ads that show children. Children’s lives cannot be saved by simply making them visible in the ads paired with motherhood statements. For example, the issue of unnecessary death of children before they turn five due to preventable causes cannot be addressed by motherhood statements alone.”
According to Minerva Cabiles, Child Rights Governance Adviser of Save the Children, “It is not enough for candidates to say that they support education or health for children. They must commit to provide sufficient budget for education, health and social services specifically for children.”
“Whether at national or local levels, politicians should say precisely where they stand when it comes to putting money where it really matters: on programs that will ensure a quality of life and dignity for children, especially those who are often excluded and marginalized. These are children from indigenous and urban and rural poor communities; children with disabilities; victims of abuse, exploitation and trafficking; children affected by conflict and disasters; and girl children, among others,” said Cabiles.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) Executive Director Romeo Dongeto explained that the Philippines has enacted landmark laws for children. Among these laws is the Special Protection against Child Abuse, which serves as framework leading to the passage of more specific laws on Anti-Pornography, Juvenile Justice and Welfare, and just recently, Foster Care. “However, much remains to be done in terms of fully implementing these laws and in further crafting policies that will address legal gaps.”
Dongeto added, “In the light of the upcoming elections, we urge voters to challenge candidates to draw and set clear their policy agenda for children.” Voters can raise children’s issues during the elections, “this can be possible by asking candidates through text messages, Twitter, and even in Facebook. Voters may also ask candidates when they visit their areas during campaign sorties,” shared Dongeto.
“There are many ways. All we need is the spirit of participation and strong determination to make this elections work. Elections should be about voters and not candidates,” said Dongeto.
According to him voters must ensure that they scrutinize these candidates and that they vote for those who will put child rights and promote their welfare in their agenda. “It’s high time we vote based on principles and not on popularity alone.”
“Bata Muna” is a nationwide campaign aimed at advancing children’s issues into the heart of electoral discussions in the 2013 National Elections. It is jointly organized by Save the Children, SM-ZOTO, Children Talk to Children (C2C) about the UN CRC Project, Plan International, Asia ACTs, WomanHealth Philippines, ChildFund, PLCPD, World Vision, UNICEF, Caraga Emergency Response Group (CERG), Mindanao Action Group for Children’s Rights and Protection (MAGCRP), Mindanao Emergency Response Network (MERN), Intervida, Cebu Court Appointed Special Advocates /Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Volunteers Association Inc., Lingap Pangkabataan Inc., Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT), and Inclusive Education Network Chapter (IEN).
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