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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
by
 
Hon. Esperanza I. Cabral
Secretary
Department of Social Welfare & Development
 
to the Commemorative High-Level Plenary Meeting Devoted to the
Follow-up to the Outcome of the Special Session on Children
December 11-12, 2007, New York

 

Mr. President,

 

At the outset, please allow me to express my government's strong condemnation of the terrorist attack in Algeria this morning that left at least many people dead, including several United Nations staff members. The Philippines grieves with the people of Algeria, the United Nations and the families of the victims.

 

Mr. President, Excellencies, Children, Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

First of all I would like to express my appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for organizing this important event.

 

Mr. President,

 

The message of the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted in 1989 was abundantly clear – our children, while enjoying equal and inalienable rights as human beings, need special care and protection for the achievement of their full potential. We all answered that call and today the Convention has become the most widely ratified international instrument, providing the framework for national and regional plans of action for children. Five years have passed since the landmark UN Spouse Session on Children, which created a common vision for A World Fit for Children. Its outcome document which complements the Millennium Declaration, is interlinked with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The ultimate objective is to create a child-friendly world where all children get the best possible start in life, have access to quality education; and are afforded the opportunity to grow to their full potential. A child friendly world is where the rights of children are respected, where democracy flourishes and where poverty is not an insurmountable barrier to human progress.

 

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the agenda of A World Fit for Children (WFFC) are top priority goals of the Philippine Government. Since 2000, the Philippines has witnessed the national and local government, private sector, academe and the international development community working closely together to fulfill these goals. The same have been mainstreamed into the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010, and in the National Plan of Action for Children 2005-2010.   In the five-year period following the last Special Session, new laws that benefit children have been passed. These include the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 ; Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor Act of 2003;Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004; Newborn Screening Act of 2004; and the Juvenile Justice and  Welfare  Act of 2006.

 

The Philippines has expressed first-hand the value of consolidated, concerted efforts and sustained interventions to improve the situation of Filipino children. The Philippines Midterm Progress Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) shows significant gains the country has made which translate to the betterment of our children.

 

Let me cite just a few:

 

  • In primary and secondary education achievement rates by sex generally favored girls. The net enrolment rate for girls in primary education for the school year 2005-2006 was 85.4 percent, exceeding that of boys, which was 83.6 percent. At the secondary level, enrolment rate for females was 65.5 percent versus 53.7 percent for males.
  • Clear gains have been made over the past 15 years in reducing infant mortality, which showed a decline from 57 to 24 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV and AIDS) have been kept well below the national target of less than one percent of the population.

 The 2007 Philippine MDG report shows that the country has made considerable progress particularly in poverty reduction, nutrition, gender equality, reducing child mortality, combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases and access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilet facilities. The gains for children during the period demonstrated what can be done when commitments are matched by resources and political will.

 

However, while our consolidated efforts have yielded promising results, critical challenges remain.   Many key survival, development, and protection goals that were set at the World Summit for Children and the UNSSC have yet to be met in critical areas. The Philippines intends to work harder on some targets concerning access to comprehensive early childhood care and development, primary education, maternal mortality and access to reproductive health services.

 

Mr. President,

 

Children have an important role to play in developing and implementing the agenda for a WFFC. We must respect their right to express themselves and to participate in matters affecting them. The Philippines has had a rich experience in actively involving children in decision-making at all levels and in advocacy, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating all matters affecting their rights. A major development in the Philippines with regard to child participation includes, the adoption of the National Framework for Children's Participation: A Guide in Promoting and Upholding Children's Participation in the Philippines. The framework provides guideposts relative to the full participation of children in planning and implementing solutions; recognizing that children are their own best advocates. In December 2006, the Philippines hosted the First Southeast Asian Children's Conference (SEACC); and much in keeping with the agenda of this Special Session, focused on HIV/AIDS, disasters; child trafficking; and quality education. The children's call to action was presented to the ASEAN Ministries of Social Welfare and Development just a few days ago for consideration.

 

At the core of the agenda of a WFFC is a vision of the world we want for children, an awareness of the major obstacles that prevent us from achieving that vision and the need for collective action to overcome these obstacles. We firmly believe that a comprehensive implementation of children's rights requires the cooperation of all sectors of society. Our goals can only be achieved in partnership and solidarity, both within and among countries. The changes needed throughout the world to protect the right of children begin with the actions taken by all of us. Everyone must play their part --- governments at all levels, non-government organizations, parents, families, communities and the entire civil society, including children themselves.

 

Our shared vision unites us: The message is straightforward: only by working together, building partnerships, mobilizing resources at all levels will we turn the tide in favor of children.

 

 Mr. President,

 

The Philippine government subscribes fully to the principles and objectives of A World Fit for Children and attaches great importance to its implementation nationally and globally. We reaffirm our obligation to promote and protect the rights of children, acknowledging the legal standards set by the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a cornerstone for follow-up action to the UNSSC. We urge our child delegates as they participate in this follow-up Special Session, to continue to be important actors, whose views and actions will condition the world of tomorrow, thereby leading the way to a brighter future.  

 

Let us, together, move forward in partnership to achieve our shared vision: a world worthy of its children. Allow me to conclude by reminding you of the    children's call for action during the UN Special Session on Children last May 2002:

 

We are the world's children.

We are the victims of exploitation and abuse.

We are street children.

We are the children of war.

We are the victims and orphans of HIV/AIDS.

We are denied good-quality education and health care.

We are victims of political, economic, cultural, religious,

and environmental discrimination.

We are children whose voices are not being heard:

      it is time we are taken into account.

We want a world fit for children, because a

                 world fit for us is a world fit for everyone.

 

Thank you.





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