For a couple of hours Thursday morning, 27 children ages 12 to 17 went to the Senate, stood in the halls of grayer, older men and women to share their hopes and fears, hoping that their older counterparts listen and act on their proposals.
In their discussions, the children, who took on the role of the 24 senators, sergeant-at-arms, and other Senate officers, said teenage pregnancy, corporal punishment, sexual abuse, and the discrimination of indigenous people are the four main problems confronting Filipino children.
Partido Liberal president Senator Francis Pangilinan welcomed the children to the Senate, noting that the future of the country needs their leaders’ time and attention, to give them importance and priority.
“Children need to have their rights protected and upheld because they are vulnerable and impressionable. Children need to be guided on what is right and wrong so that they become productive citizens,” he said.
Pangilinan said the legislative exercise should help shape the children’s role in society later, as future leaders.
The senator, a champion of children’s rights, said the country’s leaders should help ensure that all Filipino children are able to realize their dreams and full potential. He said everyone has the duty to make the world a better place for children.
This Senate event replicates a similar exercise in New York. On World’s Children Day last Monday, Nov. 20, children from all over the world had a similar exercise and “took over” the United Nations General Assembly. There, they raised the issues that most concern and affect them.
Pangilinan, together with Senators Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, and Risa Hontiveros, seeks to declare Nov. 20 as World Children’s Day.
In sponsoring Resolution 549, the lawmakers want the entire Senate to express its full support of the declaration to focus on children’s rights and welfare, protection and development.
The senators said the Senate should “promote and support active participation of children and youth worldwide especially those most vulnerable, under-represented, and marginalized.”
Nov. 20 commemorates the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, as well as the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989.
“This exercise reminds us here at the Senate of the need to bring focus on children, as well as our promise and commitment when the Philippines signed Convention of the Rights of the Child 50 years ago, and then ratified it 20 years after,” Pangilinan said.