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State of the Children Address 2016

2016 State of the Children Report

OF COTABATO CITY MAYOR ATTY. FRANCES CYNTHIA J. GUIANI-SAYADI

 

Every child has the right to health, education and protection, and every society has a stake in expanding children’s opportunities in life. Yet, around the world, millions of children are denied a fair chance for no reason other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born.

As enshrined in our 1987 Constitution, the State shall defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development.

In the light of this mandate, the City Government of Cotabato’s commitment to the welfare and protection of children, particularly on the rights to survival, protection, development and participation of children has always been our priority agenda of governance.

Because of this binding duty, the City Government appropriated a quarter of our 2016 Annual Investment and Development Program budget for children’s welfare programs alone.

The City Government also provides annual support the institutional development and capability building program of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC). This year, over and above the allocation of the City Government and the Barangays for the Local Councils for the Protection of Children, a total of P 120,000.00 is allocated for organizational capacity enhancement and training of BCPC members, advocacy on children’s laws and rights and evaluation of BCPC functionality.

The Inter-Agency Monitoring Task Force (IMTF), being chaired by the City DILG, is tasked to oversee the BCPC’s functionality.

By the way, nais ko pong ibalita sa inyong lahat na patuloy na tumataas ang bilang ng mga kumpanyang naglalagak ng puhunan sa Cotabato City. Ngayong taon lamang, mahigit 100 million pesos na halaga ng mga investment ang pumasok sa ating lungsod. Base din sa report ng ating kapulisan, malaki ang ibinaba ng mga krimen na nagaganap dito sa Cotabato City ngayong taon kung ikukumpara sa mga nakaraang taon.

Dahil sa mga pagbabagong ito, dumadami na rin ang ating mga kababayan mula sa mga karatig lugar ang pinili ng mamuhay sa ating lungsod na naging sanhi ng pagtaas ng ating populasyon.

In the most recent census published on June 8, 2016, it was revealed that there are now at least 299, 438 persons living in Cotabato City.

The census revealed that the city’s female population outnumbered their male counterparts, comprising 50.9% against 49.1% for male or about 96 males for every 100 females.

The median age of the population of the city is 21.6 years, which means that half of our population is younger than 21.6 years old.

Moreover, 35.1% of the household population is under 15 years old. Children aged 5 to 9 years old comprises the largest age group at 12.2 percent, followed by those in the age groups 10 to 14 years old and 15 to 19 years old at 11.9% each.

Of the city’s population by group classification and projection, the School Going age population comprises 45.3% of the total population; they belong to ages 3 to 22 years old. Nearly 10.6% of them are in Pre-school, ages 3-6 years old; 15% are in Elementary Level, 10% are in Secondary and 14% are in Tertiary level.

Given this data, it is very clear that we, the adults, are outnumbered by our next generations. For this very reason, the city government and its partners are trying to improve and to add more to the services that we are extending, especially those that benefit our young ones.

 

As my brother, the late Mayor Jojo Guiani had always emphasized, the future belongs to our children. After all, wala naman ibang makikinabang sa lahat ng ito kung hindi ang mga kabataan. They are our hope who can bring this city to more glory and at the same time our inspiration in working hard to pave the way to a better future.

Thus, in our quest of sustaining ours as a child-friendly city, the Office on Social Welfare and Development Services (OSWDS) conducts re-orientation, monitoring and evaluation to 37 BCPCs on their functions and responsibilities in their respective barangays.

In response to our commitment to uphold and protect the rights of the women and children in Cotabato City as well as to strengthen the intervention and referral for our children, the city government strengthened the composition of the Cotabato City Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Children.

To galvanize this commitment, we established the City Women and Children Center at the Tantawan Park.

At the forefront of our child-based agenda is the Day Care Services Program.

With a man-power compliment of 63 Day Care Workers, our Day Care Service Program admitted 3,011 pre-school toddlers this year. This program provides sufficient foundation for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners towards middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

And because we understand the sacrifices that our Day Care Workers make every single day, it is worthwhile that we commend all their efforts in taking care of our children while they are in the formative stage. Maraming, maraming salamat sa lahat ng inyong pagtya-tyaga at pag-uunawa sa ating mga kabataan habang sila ay inyong tinuturan ng mga bagay na siyang tutulong sa kanila upang mas mapabuti ang kanilang mga sarili.

In our mission to ensure a brighter tomorrow for our young ones, kayo pong mga Day Care Workers ang aming mga bayani.

Our Day Care Service Program funding allocation for this year amounts to P 1.9 million of which P 1.7 million goes to Day Care Workers’ honorarium.

This year, the Program heightened the child enrichment activities of children including value formation, socio-cultural and spiritual development as well as physical development through various kiddy sports.

In collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), we distributed 36 large monobloc tables and chairs as well as 270 pre-school chairs to appointed day care centers that met UNICEF’s selection criteria. Moreover, we distributed 18 boxes containing assorted learning as well as gaming materials and audio-visual kits to said recipients as part of teaching tools of the day-care workers.

Recently, we distributed 264 boxes of UNICEF Hygiene Kits. Each box contains sets of toothbrush, bar soaps and poly-pastes.

As part of support from the national government to the City’s Supplemental Feeding Program for Day Care Children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Office 12 downloaded the amount of P 4,620,400.00 for the purchase of daily ingredients to food viands and rice. The program aims to improve the nutritional status of our day care children and to provide continuing knowledge and skills on parenting and feeding the children.

Under this program, the parents of the children with the support of Barangay Nutrition Scholars were organized to lend a hand in cooking while the Barangay Health Workers took charge of children weighing, de-worming and distribution of vitamin A supplements.

In addition, the City Government, in cooperation with DSWD-Region 12, distributed 61 pieces of big boilers as well as frying pans to all Day Care Centers to be used for the purpose.

Meanwhile, pursuant to its commitment to the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD adopted in November 20, 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly, the City Government is strictly implementing the CHILDREN’S CODE OF COTABATO CITY to ensure the protection of children against all forms of abuse and exploitation; to ensure that children’s rights are given priority attention both in government and civil society; and to improve the quality of life of children in Cotabato City enabling them to fully develop their potentials and participate in community life and nation building.

Concretizing the protection rights of the Children is the strict implementation of Department of Education Order No. 40, series of 2012 by the Cotabato City Schools Division.

The particular Order provides the policy and guidelines on protecting children in school from abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse.

On matters of the “Right to be born, to have a name and nationality”, measures taken in relation to birth registration, personnel from the City Local Civil Registry reaches out to the barangays to advocate as well as undertake late registration of unregistered children.

Figures from the City Local Civil Registry showed that in 2015, there were 5,149 children registered out of 7,355 livebirths. However, a noticeable 5,925 children were registered from a total of 6,425 live births within the first three quarters of this year.

On the matter of attending to the welfare and needs of our out-of-school youths, a total of 942 Out-of-School Youth (OSY) members underwent peer counseling, livelihood and skills training to enable them to carry out more productive activities. The city government provided P 150,000.00 for the members of the Pag-asa Youth Association in support to the Unlad Kabataan Program and other activities of the officers of the PYAP Federation such as attendance to meetings and outside conferences.

On the program for disadvantaged and street children, the City Government’s special program for disadvantaged and street Children served 1,856 street children last year.

Under the program, the children attended value formation sessions and other activities that will enhance their physical, mental and spiritual development, socio-cultural activities, while others were referred to various institutions and individuals for assistance.

Funded annually under the Children’s Welfare Program in the amount of P 734,000.00 in the form of honorarium to 37 Street Education Volunteers (SEVs), psycho-social sessions and other related activities are conducted to street children.

On the other hand, the Social Development Center (SDC) was able to serve 180 street children, sexually abused, stranded families and children in conflict with the law and victims of involuntary prostitution.

Being sustained from the fund allocation in the amount of P 557,000.00, the SDC is maintained by 8 Houseparents.

To the health and welfare of our children, the City Government’s health services implements regular programs involving environmental health and sanitation, new born screening to be able to determine children disabilities at infant age, “Operation Timbang,” and other childcare services at all barangay health centers.

Fully Immunized Children (FICs) alone has reached as much as 3,500 children at the end of the 3rd quarter this year.

Our Office on Health Services admitted 80 children into its Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition Program, where 31 of them were already cured. Relative to this, our “Garantisadong Pambata” Program has saturated de-worming the children and the distribution of Vitamin A supplementation.

Moreover, in support to children with school needs, the City allocates a yearly budget of P 1,500.00 per client as financial assistance to indigent school children who are not beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s) to buy school supplies, shoes and uniforms.

A total of 195 children benefited this year’s P 293,700.00 budget. This is aside from the 300 indigent elementary school children who were given school kits worth P 500.00 each.

On the institutionalization of the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) System, the City Government allocated P 1.9 million last year for health and day care service component of the program. For this year, the City Government appropriated P 2.8 million for the ECCD program.

On the Program and Services for Children in Need of Special Protection (abused, raped, involuntary prostitution, child labor, victims of illegal recruitment, and stow-away), the OSWDS has already served 13 children in need of special protection. Only 2 children in crisis situation availed of our educational assistance this year.

This program is a UNICEF-assisted but locally funded project that aims to reunite our street-based children to their families by providing support services and other psycho-social interventions. This program involves others partner who are committed to provide welfare for our disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, 12 street and urban working children were enlisted under the Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) Project for Street Children, of which six are now reunited with their parents and are back in school.

However, those who opted to remain in the streets were provided with interventions such as educational and financial assistance, recreational activities, psychosocial sessions, and parenting skills sessions with their parents who were made aware of their roles and responsibilities toward their children.

In our continuing duty and commitment to protect the interest, promote the welfare and ensure the well-being and future of our children, the City Government of Cotabato had been, and will always be, closely working with other government agencies and non-government organizations.

Under the Bottom-Up Budgeting Program of the national government, we acknowledge the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s convergence in the amount of P 5 million for the repair, rehabilitation or construction of 20 day care centers.

A number of our existing Day Care Centers are in dire need of repair. Likewise, there is also the urgent need for the construction of additional Day Care Centers in order to accommodate our growing pre-school children population.

We also appreciate the non-government organizations like the Rotary Club of Cotabato, the Lions Club International, United Nations Children’s Fund and the Samaritan’s Purse for their financial and technical assistance in the furtherance of the Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) Program and the establishment of handwash facilities in all the day care centers in the barangays.

In collaboration with the Commission on Population, our City Social Welfare and Development Office trained student-facilitators from various City secondary schools for POPCOM’s Youth for Youth (U4U) Project. The U4U is a Youth Hub Initiative of the Commission on Population and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). It aims to provide Filipino teens aged 15 to 19 with critical information on delaying sexual debut and preventing sexually transmitted infections.

In partnership with the Mindanao Child Protection Network, 92 youth beneficiaries participated in the mainstreaming of child protection into governance, while 216 participated in intensifying child protection advocacy such as disaster risk reduction drills and hazard mapping.

Working with the Child Fund Philippines, our partner, Reconciliation Center of the Diocese of Cotabato, this year, served about 3,500 children through its Sustainable Early Education (SEED) Project. The SEED Project comprises of day care session, supervised neighborhood play, health and nutrition, and the WASH Program.

Indeed, I can say that the City Government of Cotabato has been very successful in carrying out its programs for our young Cotabateños. We have done the best that we can in ensuring that our children live a good life and are provided with the best services that they need.

But of course, all of this would not have been possible without the assistance that our partners in the line government agencies and the non government organizations have been incessantly extending to us.

To all of our partners who are always with us in our pursuit to have a healthier, more competitive, and a more empowered youth, our most sincere thanks and I am hoping that we continue to work together for the betterment of our future generations. To our teachers, our day care workers, our health workers, and our volunteers, ang aming taos pusong pasasalamat sa inyong walang sawang pagbibigay serbisyo sa ating mga kabataan. Alam ko pong hindi madali ang inyong ginagawa pero kinakaya niyo ito at dahil diyan ay mas inspirado po kami na gawin ang aming makakaya upang pag-ibayuhin pa ang ating mga programa para sa kapakanan ng mga batang Cotabatenño.

At ngayon, dahil sa sinimulan ng ating Pangulo Rodrigo Duterte na mas pina-igting na laban kontra ilegal na droga, tayo rin dito sa Cotabato City ay sinisigurong hindi mapipinsala ng salot na droga ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan.

Ako po mismo ay sumasama sa ating kapulisan gabi gabi upang manghuli ng mga taong sangkot sa ilegal na droga. May minsan na rin pong nakahuli kami ng mga menor de edad at bilang isang magulang, bilang isang ina, masakit po sa akin na makakita ng isang batang nalululong sa masamang bisyo.

Kung kaya pakiusap ko po sa mga kapwa ko magulang, huwag po natin pababayaan ang ating mga anak. Bantayan po natin silang maigi. Bigyan po sana natin sila ng sapat na atensyon upang hindi po sila malihis ng landas.

Let us always remember that ensuring a bright future for all our children is the responsibility of the community, the schools, families, and like it or not - it is the primordial and primary duty and responsibility of each and every one of us to guarantee that our children will have a bright future.

Thank you and wassalam!

 

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