“An empty kaing, an empty balikbayan box, an obsolete school book and a worn-out, blood- stained sack represented the empty stomachs, the worsening state of education and state-sponsored violence that Filipino children are experiencing today.”
Volume VIII, Number 25, July 27-August 2, 2008
A non-government organization branded Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the number one violator of children’s rights.
In a statement, SALINLAHI described the situation of children today as, “An empty kaing (basket), an empty balikbayan box, an obsolete school book and a worn-out, blood- stained sack represented the empty stomachs, the worsening state of education and state-sponsored violence that Filipino children are experiencing today.”
SALINLAHI, citing data from Social Weather Station survey, said that at least eight million Filipino children are malnourished, sick or dying because of hunger.
The group said that children from rural and urban poor communities experience hunger everyday. “Some just eat balinghoy (cassava) or a banana for breakfast and lunch instead of the staple rice. Even if they have money to buy rice once in a while, they will just mix it with salt and water to overcome hunger. In leaner times, they will just sleep their hunger away.”
SALINLAHI also said that children of migrant workers suffer from agony from being separated from their parents and they become vulnerable to abuse and violence. With more than 3,000 Filipinos leaving each day to work abroad, SALINLAHI estimated that 90,000 children are being left behind each month. The group said that some are even orphaned with parents going home in a casket.
Alphonse Rivera, spokesperson of SALINLAHI said, “Majority of children have not experienced the development and progress that Mrs. Arroyo is talking about. What children experience are hunger, corruption and high prices. The spiraling prices of basic commodities such as rice bury the children and their families into deeper worsening poverty.”
Rivera said that violence is the Arroyo government’s answer to the impoverished situation of Filipino families.
He said that from 2001 to July 2006, there were 215,233 children who had been victims of human rights violations. He said that106 children were orphaned or witnessed the killings of their loved ones and majority of them are victims of forced evacuation and displacement.
These incidents include killings, frustrated killings, torture and humiliation, abductions, rape, sexual harassments, illegal arrests, threats and intimidation.
Rivera said, “The children, together with their families are demanding for the decent life that they deserve. It is the utmost responsibility of the Gloria Arroyo government to uphold the rights of children—to survival, development, protection and participation in issues that affect them.”
The group called on all families, with their children, to go out in the streets and to “fight for the ouster of the nation’s number one violator of children’s rights.” (Bulatlat.com)