Groups demand:Sign IRR for Children’s Welfare Code now

NON-GOVERNMENT organizations in Davao City are calling for the signing of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Children’s Welfare Code.

The ACT for Children Alliance, a network of Davao-based child rights and development organizations, yesterday called for the full implementation of the Davao City Children’s Welfare Code through the signing of its IRR.

This code is a “landmark legislation that institutionalizes policy and program responses to many child rights challenges.” It was formulated in 1994 by Councilor Leo Avila III; it was then amended in 2006 and now known as the Comprehensive Children and Family Support System.

ACT, in a statement, said that the code has “failed to detail a contexualized direction for local implementation. It reveals a tendency to yield to generic descriptions of issues.”

The statement added that the proposed mechanisms in the code at the moment are “either too broad or too vague.”

As of now, the IRR sits unsigned in the City Legal Office.

Talikala executive director Jeanette Ampog, who’s part of ACT for Children Alliance, said that signing the IRR will fully implement the code and allow more children to access health services.

Ampog said that one factor that might have caused the delay is that the IRR signing would require this provision: to establish an office (called the Special Office for Children’s Concern), which requires at least five percent allocation from the general budget and a number of personnel.

When the IRR is signed, “this would strengthen the mark Davao City has been striving to mould an image of a platform that is pro-children.”

Health and education promotions officer of the Davao City Aids Council Precy Senoc said that the signing of the IRR will also strengthen existing protection mechanisms for children against HIV.

Senoc said that children are also vulnerable to HIV, as evident in the risky behaviors of what she calls “service boys,” minors who make sexual transactions in exchange for favors with strangers or fellow guys.

At the moment, she said that minors can’t access testing services for HIV unless accompanied with parent consent or if it’s social worker initiated.

By fully enacting the Children’s Welfare Code, she said that they can further look into how they can protect children by giving them access to other medical services that are otherwise limited by the law.

“Is Davao ready for children with HIV?” Senoc asked. She said that the only indicator of the

effectiveness of their education campaigns on HIV is the number of people who access testing services of the City Health Office (CHO), which remain free.

Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre, who was also present during the Ispeak forum said that the city council leaders are willing to approve the IRR of the Children’s Code should the CHO and the DCAC create proposals.

Based on the city’s data, the youngest person who is living with HIV is 13 years old.

She hopes that the public can continue to discuss HIV openly to lessen stigma among the community.

“Popularizing HIV reminds us to change our sexual behavior,” she said. “This will emphasize responsible sexual behavior.”

Senoc said that the DCAC has an annual budget of P100,000 per year for meetings, campaign materials, and trainings.

On Dec. 1, civil society organizations and the LGBT community will be holding a walk for a cause.

Dubbed as the Red March Parade, the walk will be a integral component of the World AIDS Day celebrations. It will start at 4 PM in Freedom Park and will end in Rizal Park.

Senoc said that she is expecting to see 200-300 people from the academe, NGOs, and the LGBT community to join.

On the same day, workshops and testing and counseling sessions will also be held in Ateneo De Davao University.

The celebrations will revolve around the theme Getting To Zero.

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