Press Release
February 20, 2019

SP Sotto: Children are zones of peace

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III today (Wednesday) welcomed the signing into law of a measure providing for the special protection of children in situations of armed conflict.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed Republic Act (RA) 11188 entitled "Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act," which provides protection to children from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect, cruelty, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development.

"It's heartwarming to finally see the bill made into law. Filipino youth wins in this law," the Senate President said.

Sotto, who is the principal author of the measure that he filed on May 29, 2017, said that children, because of their vulnerability, are the ones who suffer the most from in situations of armed conflict.

"They are the ones who are members of displaced families as a result of armed conflict, physically weakened, orphaned or disabled as a result of armed conflict, combatants and those mobilized for other armed conflict-related activities and disrupted from schooling due to armed conflict," the Senate chief said.

"Children are recruited and forced to become soldiers due to the fact that they can be easily manipulated and that their innocence are being abused," he said.

"Children in war are robbed of their innocence. The trauma of losing their family members, constant displacement and the disruption of their education during their formative years creates a life-long of disrupt and insecurity," he added.

Under the newly-signed law, treatment of children as "zones of peace shall extend beyond territorial or geographical boundaries and shall focus on the person of the child whose rights shall be promoted and protected at all times."

The law states that children in situations of armed conflict shall have the right to life, survival and development; right of special respect and protection against any form of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violation, especially in the context of armed conflict; and the right to be treated as victims.

They shall also enjoy their right to be accorded with special respect and protected from any form of direct or indiscriminate attacks and acts of violence; right to be protected from recruitment into government forces or armed group and from participation in armed conflict; and right to be protected from maiming, torture, abduction, rape and killing, especially extrajudicial killings.

They have the right to be immediately provided and have safe access to basic needs; right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose residence; right to leave the country; right to obtain necessary documents to enjoy legal rights; right of access to justice; and right to be consulted.

RA 11188 directs the state to institute policies, program and services for the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of children in situations of armed conflict.

The law also provides that it is unlawful for any person to commit hamleting, food blockade, intentional delayed reporting of a child in custody, false reporting of a child in custody, false branding of children as children involved in armed conflict, and arrest of children allegedly associated with armed groups or government forces.

Any public officer who will "knowingly and maliciously" prevent, prohibit, refuse, or discontinue the implementation of the law, or in any other way violate it, will be punished by imprisonment of six to 12 years and perpetual absolute disqualification from public office.

A government official who will prevent, prohibit, refuse, or discontinue the implementation of the law will be jailed for one month to six months and will face temporary special disqualification from public office.

To effectively undertake the protection of the welfare of children involved in armed conflicts, RA 11188 reconstitutes the Inter-Agency Committee on Children Involved in the Armed Conflict as the Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict (IAC-CSAC).

The IAC-CSAC will be chaired by the Council for the Welfare of Children.

Members include the Armed Forces of the Philippines; the Commission on Human Rights; the Departments of Local Government, Health, Education, Justice, National Defense, and Social Welfare; local government units; National Commissions on Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Filipinos; Offices of Civil Defense and Presidential Adviser on Peace Process.

Other members are Philippine Commission on Women, Philippine National Police, and two civil society organizations working in the same field.

News Latest News Feed