AN ALLIANCE of child rights advocacy groups applauded the 18th Philippine Congress for the passage of seven key bills, and at the same time reminded the incoming legislature that several other measures are needed to strengthen child protection in the country.
“As the 18th Congress comes to a close, and a new set of leaders are set to take the helm, we take this opportunity to remind our legislators of the challenges that remain as regards child-focused legislation,” said Child Rights Network (CRN) Convenor Romeo Dongeto in a statement on Thursday.
He cited the Positive and Non-Violent Discipline Bill, which passed Congress but failed to get the approval of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2019. The bill seeks to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence.
“We would continue to push for this legislation, as it is our fervent hope that Filipino children will one day value discipline not out of fear, but of love and respect,” he said.
CRN also recommended the refiling of the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Bill, the Comprehensive and Responsive Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Bill, Magna Carta of Children, the Philippine Commission on Children Bill, and the Bangsamoro Children’s Code.
“We are optimistic that the 19th Congress will be able to move past party lines and act as one and pass the key legislative measures we have identified,” he said.
Six new laws approved under the Duterte administration are: the prohibition of child marriage, improved adoption and alternative child care, increasing the age for determining commission of statutory rape, support for learners with disabilities in line with inclusive education, protection for foundlings, and expanded anti-trafficking rules.
The seventh bill, which is now up for the President’s approval, is the proposed Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials Act, ratified in both houses of Congress last Monday. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan