UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund has commended the Philippine government in taking the next critical step toward improving the plight of children in conflict zones.
The commendation followed the recent signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law to protect Children in Situations of Armed Conflict.
UNICEF, in a statement, said it supported the government’s Inter-Agency Committee for the CSAC, led by the Council for the Welfare of Children in the nationwide consultation process and drafting of the IRR of Republic Act 11188.
UNICEF Chief for Child Protection Grace Agcaoili congratulated the committee, saying “the release of the IRR of this first-ever comprehensive national law on CSAC is further proof of the government’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
She also reaffirmed UNICEF’s support in implementing the law as it marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“A very exciting and challenging work awaits the government at this crucial stage of implementation, and to focus on the priorities identified in the IRR,” she added in the statement.
CWC Executive Director Mitch Cajayon-Uy said, “We are confident that this law will enable us to strengthen our mechanism to place special emphasis on the rights of these children, toward building a caring and protective society for, by and with the children, with the recognition that they need a peaceful environment to thrive.”
Child rights advocates, under the umbrella alliance Child Rights Network, expressed optimism with the release of the IRR and called on its partners to “help ensure that the law will be fully implemented at the soonest possible time.”
Under the law passed on Jan. 10 this year, the Inter-Agency Committee is also tasked to ensure its full implementation, which upholds humanitarian principles and the rights of children to be treated as victims.
Agencies of the government who signified their commitment include the Department of National Defense, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Justice, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Office of Civil Defense, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Philippine Commission on Women, and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
The IRR clearly defines the individuals covered under the law (persons aged 18 and below), provides rules on age verification, outlines the rights of children in situations of armed conflict, identifies the enforcement agencies, and how the law will be carried out.