EDITORIAL| Ensuring safety of kids in times of disaster

IN DISASTER situations, children become very vulnerable during and after the tragedy. Save the Children Philippines, an international organization supporting the plight of children for the past three decades, pushes for the passage of the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (SB 3034), a bill that will create a comprehensive country-wide plan to protect children affected by disasters.

This has already been passed on Third Reading by the House of Representative last year and is on Second Reading at the Senate. The bill is co-authored by 10 senators including Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago,  Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., Vicente Sotto III, Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano, Ralph Recto, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino and Ramón Bong Revilla, Jr.

The organization is wary that the bill will be delayed as Congress adjourns in two weeks.

Country Director Ned Olney said that since the country is hit by at least 20 deadly typhoons every year, “millions of Filipino children are clearly most at risk every single time.”

“It is critical that this landmark legislation gets approved before the Congress adjourns again so that processes are laid out for the upcoming typhoon season. At the minimum, we should be able to know for sure how many children have been affected, but at this point this is not in place,” he said in a statement.

This bill was introduced by Rep. Susan Yap (Tarlac, 2nd District) in 2014  based on the report entitled “After Yolanda: What Children Think, Need and Recommend”put together by Save the Children and other organizations in consultation with child survivors of Yolanda. In the report, children raised concerns such as “lack of access to information, psycho-social distress, preparedness, Disaster Risk Reduction and livelihoods recovery. The report found a great need for official and systematic effort that allows children to express their views and concerns post-typhoon.”

Children comprise a big part of our population. Securing their safety in times of disaster  should be a priority of government.

Posted in Opinion