Bata Muna Children’s Party

Posted: 03/08/2013 in Advocacy

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A Campaign for Children’s

Electoral Agenda for Governance

Advocates urge voters: Challenge candidates to bare plan on children

Manila, Philippines – A group of children advocates will launch on Thursday a nationwide campaign urging voters to demand transparency and accountability from political candidates and make them place the causes of children in their platforms, openly discuss these during sorties and fulfill all their campaign promises once elected.

Dubbed “Bata Muna” campaign, the advocacy seeks to put forward the issues of children, particularly in light of the coming elections. Children experts stress on that gaps in government programs and policies point to the need to improve children’s access to government services. About 42% of the population comprise of aged 0-17 years, the children. While children represent a huge segment of the population, they are not entitled to select the leaders that will shape the world that they will grow up in.

According to Minerva Cabiles, Child Rights Governance Adviser of Save the Children, “It is not enough for candidates to say that they support education or health for children. They must commit to provide sufficient budget for education, health and social services specifically for children.”

“Whether at national or local levels, politicians should say precisely where they stand when it comes to putting money where it really matters: on programs that will ensure a quality of life and dignity for children, especially those who are often excluded and marginalized. These are children from indigenous and urban and rural poor communities; children with disabilities; victims of abuse, exploitation and trafficking; children affected by conflict and disasters; and girl children, among others,” she adds.

“Bata Muna” advocates believe that voters should scrutinize the candidates and vote for those who will put child rights and promote their welfare on their agenda.

“The candidates must openly speak of their programs for children so voters will know who among them have concrete programs for our children. It is not enough that they have campaign ads that show children. Children’s lives cannot be saved by simply making them visible in the ads paired with motherhood statements. For example, the issue of unnecessary death of children before they turn five due to preventable causes cannot be addressed by motherhood statements alone,” says May-i Fabros of WomenHealth Philippines.

Likewise, World Vision, a Christian development NGO, echoes the need to educate voters to vote for candidates who have concrete policies and programs for children. “Let us, as voters, have our children in mind as we cast our votes in the coming polls. We need to prioritize pro-child policies and programs and strengthen mechanisms that promote children’s agenda.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) Executive Director Romeo Dongeto explains that the Philippines has enacted landmark laws for children. Among these laws is the Special Protection against Child Abuse, which serves as framework leading to the passage of more specific laws on Anti-Pornography, Juvenile Justice and Welfare, and just recently, Foster Care. “However, much remains to be done in terms of fully implementing these laws and in further crafting policies that will address legal gaps.”

Dongeto adds, “In the light of the upcoming elections, we urge voters to challenge candidates to draw and set clear their policy agenda for children.” Voters can raise children’s issues during the elections, “this can be possible by asking candidates through text messages, Twitter, and even in Facebook. Voters may also ask candidates when they visit their areas during campaign sorties,” shares Dongeto.

“There are many ways. All we need is the spirit of participation and strong determination to make this elections work. Elections should be about voters and not candidates,” says Dongeto.

According to him voters must ensure that they scrutinize these candidates and that they vote for those who will put child rights and promote their welfare in their agenda. “It’s high time we vote based on principles and not on popularity alone.”

The Bayan Muna launch will be held at the Max’s Restaurant in Intramuros, Manila. Prior to the launch, the advocates will hold several activities near the Commission on Elections. Assembly area is at the Manila Cathedral.

“Bata Muna” is a nationwide campaign aimed at advancing children’s issues into the heart of electoral discussions in the 2013 National Elections. It is jointly organized by Save the Children, SM-ZOTO, Children Talk to Children (C2C) about the UN CRC Project, Plan International, Asia ACTs, WomanHealth Philippines, ChildFund, PLCPD, World Vision, Caraga Emergency Response Group (CERG), Mindanao Action Group for Children’s Rights and Protection (MAGCRP), Mindanao Emergency Response Network (MERN), Intervida, Cebu Court Appointed Special Advocates /Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Volunteers Association Inc., Lingap Pangkabataan Inc. and Inclusive Education Network Chapter (IEN).

 

 

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