The United Nations has lauded the Philippine government for implementing its unique program of protecting children in conflict areas.
Citing the Oct. 3 UN Security Council report, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the UNSC cited the steps taken by the Philippine government in addressing the issue of children caught in armed conflicts.
Esperon said the UNSC report was handed over by the UN mission led by Undersecretary General Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN special representative for children and armed conflict, to him and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita during their meeting in Malacañang last Monday.
“The Government of the Philippines was commended for its cooperation with the United Nations in the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism, and for its cooperation with the Working Group,” the report said.
Esperon said the UN stressed the need “to pursue the efforts with a view to ensure that those frameworks are fully known and implemented at all levels and by all actors.”
Coomaraswamy, special representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is visiting the country to observe the implementation of the program protecting children in conflict-affected areas.
Coomaraswamy led the delegation with Vanessa Tobin, Alec Wargo, Ms. Laurence Gerard and Lara Scott to witness the implementation of the program.
The Philippine government has assured the UN that it will fully cooperate with its campaign to protect children in war-torn areas.
Esperon told Coomaraswamy that protection of children is a top priority concern of the Philippine government.
He said that as of 2007, there are about 34 million Filipino children whose ages range from 17 and below, comprising 38 percent of the total Philippine population.
“Of this number, 50 percent are children who are male of which 18 percent are in Luzon, seven percent in the Visayas and 25 percent in Mindanao, of which 1.2 million are in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Esperon said.
On the other hand, the human rights group Karapatan came out with its annual report slamming the government for its failure to successfully prosecute human rights violators.
Karapatan released its partial annual report on the human rights situation in the country, claiming the second phase of the government’s Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) remains in effect.
Karapatan referred to the government’s security plan to supposedly neutralize the enemies of the state, including left leaning groups and supporters of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and members of its front organizations.
Karapatan blamed the government’s OBL for the murder and forced disappearances of several people.
Karapatan cited the statement of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in claiming OBL as “critically responsible” for wanton killings and disappearances in the Philippines.
The human rights watchdog released a 32-page report claiming the government has not lived up to its promise of respecting the dignity and human rights of Filipinos.
The report noted the human rights situation in the country “has not been any better” over the last eight years despite repeated claims of the administration of eradicating poverty and improving democracy. –- Jose Rodel Clapano with Katherine Adraneda