DSWD champions law protecting children during disasters

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman lauded the signing into law of Republic Act (RA) 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act by President Benigno S. Aquino III yesterday at the Malacanang Palace.

The law mandates the DSWD to formulate a comprehensive emergency program for children during disasters.

“The rights and welfare of the children, especially in times of disasters, must be the utmost priority of the government. Though that is already being done, this law institutionalizes that,” Sec. Soliman said.

She added that in times of disasters, the children are among the most vulnerable to further danger and abuses.

The law was championed by the Department as part of the lessons learned during the past disasters and other emergency situations, especially during Typhoon Yolanda.

Aside from the DSWD, the law also mandates the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to promote and conduct a children-responsive training program for all responders in the calamity areas such as barangay leaders, community members, and rescuers, among others.

Under the law, a transitional shelter to cater to the orphaned, separated, and unaccompanied children must be established to be spearheaded by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in coordination with DSWD.

Stronger measures to ensure the safety, protection, health, and nutrition needs of disaster/emergency-affected children must be put in place. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Health (DOH) are the key agencies for the provision of safety and health services, respectively.

The Department of Education (DepEd), for its part, needs to come up with a plan of action for the prompt resumption of education-related services for the children victims of disasters to prevent longer period for them to be out of school.

President Aquino stressed that the different measures are already being implemented in the overall government’s disaster risk reduction and management strategies. However, RA 10821 ensures the institutionalization of the mechanisms for the protection and prioritization of the children sector during and after a crisis situation.

He added that the law provides for a stronger mandate and clearer roles and accountabilities of the different agencies in government in protecting disaster-affected children.

All of the programs and interventions mentioned in the law are also to be integrated by the local government unit​s ​in their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) budget and program plans.

Presently, the DSWD is spearheading the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) in coordination with the Department of National Defense (DND), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), DepEd, DOH, Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other child-focused civil society organizations.

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