Group urges candidates not to forget children’s welfare

·2 min read

A NON-PROFIT organization has called on local and national candidates to ensure smooth reintegration of child victims of cybercrimes and other forms of abuse should they win in the upcoming 2022 elections.

The Children’s Legal Bureau Inc. (CLB) invited local and national candidates, as well as party-lists on Sunday, April 24, to its forum, which allowed them to share their platforms for children.

CLB communications and advocacy officer King Anthony Yap Perez said they organized the Children’s Agenda Setting and Forum “because of the unusual absence of the children’s agenda in the election discourse.” He added that CLB wants to “hopefully seal commitments from policymakers and leaders in materializing the identified courses of action in addressing pressing child-related issues.”

Perez, a lawyer, said survivors of abuse need to be reintegrated into the society, and political leaders have roles to play.

Taking care of the survivors does not end with the filing of charges against the culprits, he said.

“They also need to be integrated into society. So, I think LGUs could play a good role in ensuring that their reintegration to the community would be smooth,” Perez said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

According to Perez, CLB has continually received reports of suspected cases of cyber sex or abuse of children amid the existing laws such as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

The group, however, does not have actual data if there is an increase of cases in Cebu, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Perez said they challenged the candidates to “ensure proper monitoring in their areas if there are suspected incidents.”

Government officials, he said, should ensure the safety of the children and the youth in the digital space, citing the problems of cybercrime particularly online sex.

The forum was part of the kickoff event for CLB’s 25th year celebration.

Perez clarified that there are existing collaborations and partnerships of CLB and other government and non-governmental organizations but he also stressed that there is still a need to push further their efforts to protect children.

While CLB will not be endorsing any candidate, Perez emphasized the importance of electing good leaders this coming elections.

Among the candidates who attended the forum were Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and independent candidate for Cebu City vice mayor Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez.

Rama assured CLB that he will look at the output of the group and address whatever the city is lacking in its response.

Fernandez also challenged the youth to help him as their watchdogs against child abuse should he win in the upcoming elections.

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