Saturday, August 17, 2013
MANILA-In time for the observance of the International Humanitarian Law Month this August, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is making a pitch for the passage of a bill which will provide special protection for children in situation of armed conflicts (CSAC).
Senate Bill 25, which is part of Sen. Estrada’s priority measures for the 16th Congress, declares as a state policy the provision of special protection for children in armed conflicts from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect, cruelty, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development.
The proposed measure defines “children in situation of armed conflict” as persons below 18 years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of physical or mental disability or condition and who are involved in armed conflict, who are affected by armed conflict and internally displaced children.
“This occasion is an opportune time to establish policies regarding the protection of innocent children caught in the crossfire of violent clashes of government troops and insurgents, and infighting among various secessionist, terrorist and ideological groups,” Jinggoy states.
The International Humanitarian Law is widely recognized as a set of rules protecting those who are not participating in hostilities particularly civilians, medical and religious personnel, wounded and sick combatants, and prisoners of war.
“Children should no longer be subjected to violence, but should be provided an environment that would nurture their hopes and dreams,” Jinggoy asserts.
Section 6 of the bill pronounces children as zones of peace where the rights of the child are promoted and protected at all times and considered as demilitarized zone and sanctuary that operates within principles of non-violence, free from weapons, injustice and environmental degradation.
Moreover, the bill penalizes commission of any person of acts of grave child rights violations (killing, torture, maiming, rape, inhuman treatment and punishment, abduction, recruitment/enlistment into armed forces, denial of humanitarian access or assistance, attack on schools, hospitals, places of worship, evacuation centers and settlements and other public places where children can usually be found) with 14 years up to life imprisonment and fine of 1,000,000 pesos.
The proposed measure also institutes rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration systems, including psychosocial support, health and nutrition, education, livelihood for families, legal services, among others.
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