Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año urges local government units (LGUs) to be advocates of children's welfare by spearheading the celebration of the 26th National Children's Month (NCM) with the theme "Isulong: Tamang Pag-aaruga sa Lahat ng Bata".
Año says that NCM is the opportune time to promote children's welfare down to the grassroots level and encourage their constituents to prioritize children's rights and protection "as they are integral to this country's progress and future only if we build a safe, nurturing, and protective environment for them today".
"As the most vulnerable age group, there is an urgent call for our LGUs to ensure that our children are given the protection they deserve through decisive policies and encompassing programs, and there's no perfect time to do that than in NCM," he says.
In a directive released recently, Año encourages LGUs to support and spearhead the celebration of NCM which focuses on positive parenting to support the key strategies of the Philippine Plan of Action to End Violence Against Children.
The DILG Secretary explains that LGUs can rouse awareness of NCM by hanging tarpaulins or streamers; recitation of 'Panatang Makabata' during flag raising ceremonies; and posting of the NCM official logo and 26th NCM theme, audiovisual presentation, and other NCM advocacy materials on their websites and official social media accounts.
LGUs can also develop, produce and distribute Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials and other collaterals developed by the Council for the Welfare of Children; conduct an activity related to the focus and theme of the 26th NCM; and participate in all NCM major activities and NCM-related activities nationwide.
"Hinihiling po natin na sana ay suportahan at maging malaking kabahagi ang mga pamahalaang lokal sa pagdiriwang ng NCM at sa iba pang programa at adbokasiya para sa kapakanan ng mga bata," Año says.
He also urges public servants not forget the welfare of children in the middle of the daily demands of public service saying that challenges of public service are paramount priorities for they affect people's lives but children's welfare should not be taken for granted.
"Bilang isang ama, at ngayo'ylolo, I draw inspiration knowing that what I am working hard for will ultimately benefit them. As leaders of their jurisdictions, I encourage our local chief executives to be like a father to their people's children by protecting and nourishing them," he adds.
Localized emergency program for children
The DILG, according to Año, also released a separate memorandum circular enjoining LGUs to support the localization of the Comprehensive Emergency Programs for Children (CEPC) for the protection of children during disasters and other emergencies.
"Disasters may strike without further notice which is why mechanisms for the protection of children during these times must be in place for we cannot underestimate damages catastrophes may bring," says Año.
In the said memorandum, Año encourages LGUs to integrate CEPC in their Comprehensive/Local Development Plan, Annual Investment Programs, Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, and contingency plans.
The standards and protocol provided in CEPC shall be used as the basis for handling disasters and other emergency situations to protect children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and support their immediate recovery as stipulated in Republic Act 10821 known as Children's Emergency Relief and Protection Act.