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Philippine gov't strengthens monitoring to prevent child soldiers


08:18, July 05, 2013

MANILA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government has intensified its monitoring system to ensure that children are not used in armed conflict, a senior government official said Thursday.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman issued the directive after the United Nations recently cited the Philippines as among 22 countries last year that experienced conflicts involving child warriors.

According to the UN report, there were 11 recorded incidents of recruitment and use of children, involving 23 boys and three girls, 12 to 17 years old, by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), New People's Army (NPA), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Soliman ordered the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), an attached agency of the DSWD, to double its effort in the monitoring of cases.

"We are deeply concerned with this UN report and we want to know if there is truth on this. This government does not allow the recruitment of child warriors," she said.

The CWC chairs the Monitoring, Reporting and Response System ( MRRS) Inter-agency Team, which is tasked to gather, validate, and monitor reports of incidences of grave child rights violations, and ensure provision of appropriate and timely inter-agency response.

To strengthen the MRRS, the CWC drafted a proposed executive order adopting the Expanded Comprehensive Program Framework for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict and directs national government agencies and local government units to protect children from grave child rights violation.

The EO is being finalized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and will be submitted to President Benigno S. Aquino III for his approval.

The CWC is also currently conducting an orientation on the MRRS protocol for social workers, teachers, police officers, and health workers. The protocol outlines the flow of reporting of child rights violations and the provision of immediate response.

To further ensure the protection of children from exploitation, the CWC is also pushing for the passage of the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict (CSAC) Bill.

The bill seeks to provide for a comprehensive protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of children in situations of armed conflict. It bill also imposes penalty on parents who encourage their children to join armed groups.

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