Mar 142015

In light of recent disasters, especially Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, a non-governmental organization urged the Philippine government to pass a law to protect children during calamities and other emergency situations.

Save the Children country director Ned Olney said in a statement this week that Senate Bill 2446 or the proposed Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act will “mitigate the impact of disasters on education” through proper planning and investments.

“The [proposed act] is asking for investments to make school facilities safer, setting limits on the use of classrooms as displacement centers and in preparing children and teachers for disasters,” Olney said.

If passed into law, the bill will:

1) Enhance and institutionalize protection of children affected by natural disasters and calamities;

2) Provide Congress a strengthened oversight mandate to ensure child protection in disasters; and

3) Address policy gaps in current laws of importance to child welfare.

“Disasters have a huge impact on education. However, it does not have to be that way. Proper planning can help us to mitigate the impact of disasters on education,” Olney added.

The psychological distress that children suffer after disasters, which affects their ability to learm,  will also be addressed.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill on third reading in January.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a press statement in February that it would pass through the Senate soon and will be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III “in due time”.

Save the Children will call on high-level Cabinet officials and Congress leaders to fast track the Senate approval of the bill at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Sendai, Japan from March 14 to 18.

Last held in 2005, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked on Friday that the conference will enable the creation of a unified plan of action that will protect millions through effective risk reduction methods.

“Disaster risk reduction is in everybody’s interest- and it is everybody’s business… it is a frontline defense against the impact of climate change. It is a smart investment for business and a wise investment in saving lives,” he said. Rie Takumi/JDS, GMA News

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