November marks the start of National Children’s Month. By virtue of Republic Act 10661, the National Children’s Month commemorates the adoption of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Nov. 20, 1989.

This month-long event aims to promote and spread awareness on the rights of children in the Philippines, considering the political and social climate they live in.

In celebration of the National Children’s Month, all sectors of society are mandated to celebrate, empower, and recognize the young as the most valuable assets of the nation. We, as adults, are responsible to raise responsible and law-abiding citizens and it is our duty to help the young ones’ transition into self-led, self-reliant beings.

Government agencies, non-government organizations, service organizations, and individuals are calling for unity in protecting children from harm and for greater investment in their development. Together, the welfare of children and their best interest are even more crucial during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although children may not be as vulnerable to the Covid-19 compared with other age groups, they equally suffer from the secondary effects and the measures taken to combat the infection.

This year’s celebration shall continuously anchor on the 3rd National Plan of Action for Children goals to progressively realize the rights of children anchored in four goals: Children have a better quality and improved way of life; Children are well nourished, have healthy lives, and are active learners with good quality education; Children are safe and free from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and children are actively participating in decision-making processes affecting their lives according to their evolving capacities.

In addition, the observance will be aligned to the key result areas of the Philippine Plan of Action to End Violence Against Children. Parents and caregivers are aware of and practicing evidence-based parenting skills and positive discipline towards building a safe, nurturing, and protective environment.

Children and adolescents demonstrate personal skills in managing risks, protecting themselves from violence, reporting their experience of violence, and seeking professional help when needed.

All children in need of special protection have access to appropriate and quality protective, social, mental, health, legal, economic, and judicial services ensuring that violence and trauma are prevented from recurring and well-developed and effectively managed monitoring and evaluation system is in place. All VAC-related laws are in place and are effectively enforced and multi-stakeholder child protection structures and systems at the national, provincial, municipal, city and barangay levels are operational and effectively functioning.

We must keep in mind the 12 Rights of Filipino Children: Every child has the right to be born well; Every child has the right to a wholesome family life; Every child has the right to be raised well and become contributing members of society; Every child has the right to basic needs; Every child has the right to access what they need to have a good life; Every child has the right to education; Every child has the right to play and enjoy their youth; Every child has the right to be protected from danger; Every child has the right to live in a productive environment; Every child has the right to be cared for in the absence of their parent or guardian; Every child has the right to good governance; and every child has the right to freedom and peace.

Let’s continue to be great examples to kids and be conscious of our actions in making the Philippines a safe environment for them to take care of and pass on to future generations.

The theme for this year’s National Children’s Month is “Sama-samang itaguyod ang karapatan ng bawat bata sa panahon ng pandemya.” The Universal Children’s Day will be observed on Nov. 20.

END/Patrick T Rillorta