Philippines Campaign Urges Politicians to Put Children First

Filipinos will go to the polls this month for the midterm elections. But critics say that the issue of children

INDONESIA

Senin, 03 Jun 2013 18:51 WIB

Author

Madonna T. Virola

Philippines Campaign Urges Politicians to Put Children First

Philippines midterm election, Philippines election, child rights, Philippines children

Filipinos will go to the polls this month for the midterm elections.

But critics say that the issue of children’s rights is missing from the political agenda.

Bata Muna or “Children First” is a nationwide network of 30 children’s organisations that has been campaigning across the country to educate voters on the importance of child welfare.

Their campaign seeks to put children at the center of the up-coming elections.

The campaign ended with a musical concert in Cubao, Quezon City.

At least 1,000 children are here for the concert, which includes bands and dances, as well as children’s talk shows.

On stage, young artists dressed as super heroes, are dancing and playing songs about children’s issues.

16-year-old Geralyn Tapere from the group ‘Children Talk to Children’ is on stage, reading out a list of issues affecting young people.

“Corporal punishment, child labor, early pregnancy, malnutrition, truancy, poverty, lack of consultation with children, dangerous environments, disaster and conflict, child trafficking, poor education and children with disabilities.”

According to the international NGO Save the Children, nearly half of the Filipino population are children.

But political candidates rarely include them as part of their electoral manifestos. Out of 36 Manila-based politicians running in the up-coming election who were invited to the event, only 9 showed up.

This is the first time that such an event has been held, says Rowena Cordero from Save the Children.

“This is just the beginning because previous elections rarely include issues of children. Candidates would probably use children, kiss babies, or have children in their posters, or say that they are for children, but in actuality those are just words or gimmicks or part of their propaganda.”

Most of the children at the concert are not yet eligible to vote. But Geralyn promises to pass on the message to her parents at home.

“I will tell my parents to choose candidates with a platform for children. And to the candidates, I hope they aren’t empty promises. Since I was small, I’ve seen lots of promises being made on TV, but so far nothing has changed. Some children are still very poor, they can’t go to school... so I don’t trust the politicians.”

Rowena Cordero from Save the Children urges politicians to put child welfare on their agenda... and asks voters to scrutinize their candidates’ track record and hold them to account.

“So we hope that in the coming months after the elections and even after the years, we will be able to again engage those who have won political seats and monitor their track record in terms of how they are performing their responsibilities and how they are also integrating issues of children in their own programs and in their agenda. I think that’s where change will matter most for children.”

After the concert, 20-year-old Jessica Oraya says she’s now ready for her first election.
 
She will support candidates who are not corrupt and who have concrete plans for children, especially those from poor communities.

“I will also check their family background and research what they have done in the past for children. So it now depends on the candidates, whether or not they listen to us. If they can’t be responsible for children when elected, what will happen to us, the next generation?”



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