PHILIPPINES
 
 

 STATEMENT

By

CORAZON JULIANO -SOLIMAN
Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development Chairperson,
Council for the Welfare of Children Republic of the Philippines

General Assembly Special Session on Children

New York, May 8-10, 2002


MR. CHAIRMAN,
EXCELLENCIES,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
 

ON THE OCCASION OF THIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION, IT IS MY DISTINCT HONOR TO CONVEY TO YOU THE PERSONAL GREETINGS OF H.E. PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HER WISH FOR A FRUITFUL AND SUCCESSFUL SPECIAL SESSION. IT IS OUR FERVENT HOPE THAT OUR MEETING WILL BE ANOTHER MILESTONE IN OUR CONTINUING EFFORTS TO BUILD A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN.

TEN YEARS AGO, THE LEADERS OF THE WORLD CONVENED THE WORLD SUMMIT FOR CHILDREN TO SECURE A BETTER FUTURE FOR CHILDREN. THAT SUMMIT RESULTED IN THE DECLARATION AND PLAN OF ACTION AND THE SIGNING OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (CRC). SINCE THEN THIS CONVENTION HAS BECOME THE MOST UNIVERSALLY RATIFIED AGREEMENT.
 

MR.CHAIRMAN,

WHEN WE REVIEWED OUR PROGRESS, OUR REGIONAL EFFORTS BROUGHT A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF POSITIVE RESULTS. THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS ADOPTED AT ITS MINISTERIAL MEETING FOR SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT IN AUGUST 2001, THE DECLARATION OF COMMITMENTS FOR CHILDREN IN ASEAN.

WE HAVE COMMITTED OURSELVES TO ACT THROUGH THE MUTUAL SHARING OF INFORMATION AND BEST PRACTICES ON CHILD RIGHTS; DEVELOPING FAMILY SUPPORT AND FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND CREATING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR ITS ADULT MEMBERS.

AT THE FIFTH EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC MINISTERIAL CONSULTATION HELD IN BEIJING IN MAY 2001, WE HAVE COMMITTED OURSELVES TO GIVE OUR CHILDREN BETTER OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THE ADOPTION OF THE BEIJING DECLARATION FOR CHILDREN IN THE EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC REGION FOR 2001- 2010.
 

MR. CHAIRMAN,

I WISH TO CITE OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ON CHILD RIGHTS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE PHILIPPINES. OUR LATEST ACHIEVEMENT WAS THE RATIFICATION BY THE PHILIPPINE SENATE ON 23 APRIL 2002,OF THE TWIN OPTIONAL PROTOCOLS OF THE CRC ON THE INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT AND THE SALE OF CHILDREN, CHILD PROSTITUTION AND CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.

IN THE LAST DECADE, THE PHILIPPINE CONGRESS ENACTED 24 LAWS ON CHILDREN; THE MOST RECENTLY APPROVED WAS REPUBLIC ACT 8980 WHICH INSTITUTIONALIZES AN EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM. A SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR THE DECADE WAS THE ADOPTION OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENT FOR CHILDREN OR CHILD 21, A TWENTY-FIVE YEAR FRAMEWORK PLAN TO GUIDE STAKEHOLDERS IN DEVELOPING PLANS, POLICIES, PROGRAMS AND SERVICES FOR CHILDREN USING A LIFE-STAGE AND CHILD RIGHTS APPROACH. EFFORTS AT MAINSTREAMING CHILD RIGHTS AND CHILD 21 ARE NOW UNDERWAY IN AT LEAST 70 PER CENT OF OUR PROVINCES AND 25 PER CENT OF OUR CITIES.

WITH REGARD TO THE END OF THE DECADE GOALS, WE HAVE REDUCED INFANT MORTALITY RATE FROM 57 PER 1,000 LIVEBIRTHS IN 1990 TO 36 IN YEAR 2000. CHILD UNDER FIVE MORTALITY RATE DECLINED FROM 80 IN 1990 TO 49 IN 2000. WE HAVE ALSO REDUCED MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE FROM 209 PER 100,000 LIVEBIRTHS IN 1990 TO 172 IN 1998. SIMILARLY, THE PREVALENCE OF UNDERWEIGHT PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN, 0-5 YEARS OLD, HAS BEEN REDUCED FROM 9.80 PERCENT IN 1990 TO 9.2 PERCENT IN 1998. HOUSEHOLDS WITH ACCESS TO SAFE DRINKING WATER HAVE IMPROVED FROM 73 PERCENT IN 1990 TO 87 PERCENT IN 1998, WHILE THOSE WITH ACCESS TO SANITARY TOILETS INCREASED FROM 68 PERCENT TO 81 PERCENT FOR THE SAME PERIOD.

IN THE AREA OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT, OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PARTICIPATION RATE IMPROVED FROM 85 PERCENT IN 1992 TO 96.4 PERCENT IN 2000. WITH MORE ACCESS TO BASIC EDUCATION, THE SIMPLE LITERACY RATE HAS IMPROVED FROM 89.8 PERCENT IN 1989 TO 93.9 PERCENT IN 1994, WITHOUT A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE.

DESPITE SOME NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS FOR IMPROVED CHILD PROTECTION, THE OVERALL NUMBER OF CHILDREN REQUIRING SPECIAL PROTECTION HAS INCREASED. ALLOW ME TO CITE, HOWEVER, THAT IT WAS DURING THE LAST DECADE WHERE WE ACHIEVED BEST PRACTICES IN RESPONDING TO ISSUES ON CHILDREN, THROUGH PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR, THE CIVIL SOCIETY AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IN PROTECTING URBAN WORKING AND STREET CHILDREN AND VICTIMS OF ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION. IN PARTICULAR, UNICEF HAS BEEN AN ACTIVE PARTNER IN IMPLEMENTING OUR FIFTH COUNTRY PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN.

IN THE AREA OF PROTECTING CHILDREN WITHIN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM, THE PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT HAS APPROVED THREE CHILD SENSITIVE RULES OF COURT NAMELY: THE RULE ON CHILD WITNESS; JUVENILES IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW AND THE COMMITMENT OF CHILDREN FOR REHABILITATION PURPOSES.

WE HAVE PROVIDED TRAINING AND UPGRADED CENTERS AND COURT FACILITIES. TO LESSEN THE TRAUMA CAUSED BY REPEATED INTERVIEWS AND TESTIMONIES OF CHILDREN INVOLVED AS VICTIMS, WITNESSES OR OFFENDERS IN A CASE.
 IN SUMMARY, THE LAST DECADE HAS CREATED POCKETS OF HOPE OR ENERGY ZONES FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS AND WELFARE.
 

MR. CHAIRMAN,

OUR INVESTMENTS ON CHILDREN IS INADEQUATE; AND WE NEED ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR INVESTING ON CHILDREN, OUR GREATEST ASSET.

PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY MUST ALSO BE SUSTAINED AND CHILDREN'S ISSUES SHOULD-NEVER BE POLITICIZED. THESE ARE, IN FACT, ISSUES OF HUMANITY THAT CONCERN US ALL.

THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY AS A BASIC UNIT OF ALL OUR SOCIETIES MUST BE UNDERSCORED. IT IS IN THE FAMILY THAT A CHILD IS BORN, NOURISHED AND DEVELOPED.THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE FAMILY IS THEREFORE A CRITICAL FACTOR IN SHAPING THE DESTINY AND FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN.

WHILE WE TAKE ACTION TO STRENGTHEN FAMILIES, WE ARE ALSO CONCERNED THAT MANY CHILDREN CONTINUE TO SUFFER FROM HUNGER. WE NEED TO RESPOND IMMEDIATELY TO URGENT ISSUES OF CHILDREN'S SURVIVAL. WE MUST LISTEN TO THEM. THEY MUST BE EMPOWERED TO DEFEND AND PROTECT THEIR. RIGHTS TO GROW AND DEVELOP. WE NEED TO ENGAGE IN A MASSIVE CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE AND PROTECT CHILDREN'S RIGHTS AND WELFARE ESPECIALLY IN THESE TIMES WHEN CONFLICTS ARE BEING RESOLVED THROUGH THE BLOOD OF CHILDREN, WOMEN, THE ELDERLY, AND OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS.

THE UNITED NATIONS HAS A MOST SIGNIFICANT ROLE TO PLAY IN THIS REGARD, ESPECIALLY IN CREATING A CHILD-FRIENDLY WORLD. IT IS AN INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATION NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE CONVENTIONS WE SIGNED BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY BECAUSE WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO THEM.
 

MR. CHAIRMAN,

WE BELIEVE WE CAN ACHIEVE THE GOALS WE HAVE SET FOR OURSELVES BY SUSTAINING A MAXIMUM LEVEL OF POLITICAL WILL AND RESOLVE. THIS EXERCISE IS BEST EXEMPLIFIED IN THE GLOBAL SAY YES FOR CHILDREN CAMPAIGN. I AM HAPPY TO REPORT TO YOU THAT THIS CAMPAIGN HAS RECEIVED AN OVERWHELMING RESPONSE IN MY COUNTRY. FILIPINOS WANT A BETTER WORLD FOR OUR CHILDREN.
 

MR. CHAIRMAN,

WE ARE OPTIMISTIC THAT THIS SPECIAL SESSION WOULD INDEED BRING ABOUT A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN. WE OWE IT TO OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN TO RETURN A BORROWED WORLD ORDER TO THEM - ONE THAT IS IMPROVED AND MUCH BETTER THAN WHEN WE FOUND THIS WORLD OURSELVES.
 

THANK YOU AND MABUHAY!