Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday welcomed the signing into law of a measure that would provide special protection for children affected or displaced by armed conflict.
It was reported that Republic Act No. 11188, otherwise known as "The Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act," was signed on Tuesday by President Rodrigo Duterte. It provides protection to children in situations of armed conflict from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect, cruelty, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development.
Hontiveros, who was the primary sponsor and author of the law in the Senate, said the law makes the country more compliant with international obligations for the increased safety and well-being of children, declaring them as "special zones of peace."
"Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in places of conflict. Prolonged conflicts put their chances for education at risk. Many of them are also displaced and separated from their relatives and loved ones. Worse, they lose their families and suffer from serious human rights abuses," Hontiveros said.
"With this law, we hope the government will be able to protect our children from the brutality of armed conflicts and help them live peaceful, productive lives," Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros explained that the law ensures that children under 18 years old are not recruited, re-recruited, used or arrested by armed groups. She said that under the law, the rights of children are preserved and protected, regardless of gender and ethnicity.
She said that under the law, it mandates that health and nutrition, psychosocial services, education, livelihood for families and other basic and legal services be accessible to the children and their guardians. Hontiveros said this will reinforce the responsibility of the government to address root causes of armed conflicts.
"Our children are our greatest responsibilities. We must allow them to enjoy their childhood. We must at all cost guard them from the horrors of armed conflict and restore hope to those who have suffered so much at a young age," Hontiveros concluded.