In a forum held recently at the UP Diliman in Quezon City, representatives from various government agencies, local government units and non-governmental and people's organizations came out in one voice for "better coordination and wider participation" to ensure the welfare and safety of children during emergencies and disasters.
The groups also lauded the initiatives of Save the Children for its "innovative integrated approach" in ensuring "child-centered and child-led" DRR programs by combining disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and solid waste management - through its EnCoRe (Enhancing the Resilience of Urban Communities to Disasters & Climate Change) Program. Children’s Challenge to Government Through songs and dances, around thirty children presented their issues and concerns to the government officials present during the event.
They called for “inclusion” of children’s agenda in government programs. Aina Pachoco, a student of Arsenio Santos Memorial Elementary School in Calumpit, Bulacan, led all the guests in pledging for their commitment to “walk the talk,” saying that what transpired should truly redound to the full protection of children.
“Sana po, maging totoo po lahat nang napagusapan, para sa aming mga bata,” Pachoco said. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for Child Participation in DRR Activities At the forum, a memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed by Ned Olney, Country Director of Save the Children Philippine Country Office and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.
Co-signing the MOA were 11 year old Marvin Sambilay, and Monica Baltero, 15 years old, both residing in Bulacan, one of the perennially affected provinces during calamities. DILG Director for national barangay operations, Leocadio Trovela, represented Secretary Roxas during the affair. DepEd regional director Isabelita Borres and DENR Assistant Director Eva Ocfemia witnessed the ceremony.
The two agencies are still finalizing their separate MoAs with the NGO, but has already committed in principle, to adopt the Australian government-funded, ENCORE project. The agreement sought to formalize the commitment of various government leaders and representatives of non-governmental and people's organizations on the need for children's participation in DRR activities as a "shared responsibility" by all sectors of Philippine society.
Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi and Bulacan Provincial Administrator Eugenio Payongayong, together with several mayors of the province, were also present as their local governments are the immediate target beneficiaries of the project. Olney said, "Our recently-signed document would save and protect the lives of many children.
Before there was only a legal and nominal recognition to the role of children in disaster risk reduction with Section 14 of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010.
“Today, we have the commitment of important sectors in society - especially those in government - to ensure the participation of children in assessing hazards and vulnerabilities in their communities.
There are so many things that have to be done in order to create and maintain disaster-resilient communities. So much work can be spread out, even to children, with their meaningful contributions to disaster risk reduction programs.
We demonstrate this in our child-centered and child-led DRR initiatives in our pilot areas for the ENCoRe Program in Bulacan and in Muntinlupa," Olney added.
Government Officials vow Promotion of "Child-Centered DRR" Government officials led by Department of the Interior and Local Government ( DILG) Director Leocadio Trovela of the national barangay operations, Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Director Isabelita Borres and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Director Eva Ocfemia, all expressed their support to the program.
The international NGO said people who underwent drills and seminars on disaster awareness are more likely to survive emergencies and natural calamities.
Reaction from LGU beneficiaries of the EnCoRe Program The forum, which marks the second phase of the EnCoRe program, was previously focused on just two pilot areas: Bulacan and Muntinlupa. Both areas have been identified "red" in the hazard map of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).
Mayor Jaime Fresnedi and Bulacan administrator Eugenio Payongayong, took turns in lauding the project that would immediately benefit their constituents.
photo credit: Mon Estabaya