The Philippines, as one of the signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children (UN-CRC), celebrates children’s month every November. The UN CRC became the nation’s guide in making policies and programs for children.
Three decades after, the Philippine government will report its accomplishment in as far as the UN CRC is concerned during the children’s month celebration this November.
The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program commonly known as 4Ps is flagship program of the government which aims to end the vicious cycle of poverty by investing the health and education of children aged 18 and below. In 2012, recognizing the important role of the children in the program implementation, it gathered children-beneficiaries representing each province in the country, to participate in the first Pantawid Pamilya National Childrens’ Congress (NCC).
Since then, the NCC became a regular activity of the program and is being conducted every November, coinciding with the celebration of the Nationa Children’s Month.
Participants of the NCC are those hailed as Exemplary Child in each of the province and highly urbanized cities nationwide. Annually, more than 80 children are gathered to join the congress.
Jay Mark Gac-ang of Lanao del Norte, were among the participants of the NCC in 2018. He shared with his co-participants his vision of becoming a lawyer someday, citing that justice remains to be elusive most especially for the poor.
“Masaya ako na kasama ako ng NCC dahil naibahagi ko ang aking adbokasiya sa iba pang mga batang kagaya ko, na patuloy na ipaglaban ang karapatan ng mga mahihirap (I am very happy to be part of the NCC because I was able to share my advocacy to all other children, in fighting for the rights of the poor),” shared Jay Mark.
“I wanted to become a lawyer someday. I want to give voice to those who are poor and oppressed. I want to prove that justice is not only for the rich but also for the poor. I want everyone to know that justice is not about money but it is about truth,” he added
At a very young age, he experienced and witnessed how difficult life is. Their life’s difficulties served as his motivation of providing a better life to his family someday.
This 2019, the discussion in the NCC will focus on the participatory rights of the children. It includes children in governance, citizenship among children, and providing space for children’s participation, and advocating for children’s right to play.
NCC uses the arts as development approach in the participants’ creativity in expressing themselves, while instilling the value of leadership and volunteerism to help others, their family and community.
Last April, the 4Ps Act or the Institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program was enacted. Under the law, the 4Ps now becomes the national government strategy in addressing poverty. It is also a human development program that invests in the health and education by providing cash grants to children from poor households as identified by Listahanan.
Among the salient provision of the law is the increase in the cash grants received by the beneficiaries. For health grant, each compliant household will be receiving 750. 00. Meanwhile, those enrolled in senior high school will now receive 700.00. The additional grants will be received starting January of 2020.
The passage of the CCT Law will ensure that voices of the children-beneficiaries are heard. They are the primary reason why the program has been implemented in the first place. We wanted these children to have better lives, far from the lives that their parents grew up to.
As of August 2018, there are around 8.3 million children being monitored by the program. Almost half of this or a total of 3.5 million children are enrolled in Grades 7-10. This year’s NCC, more than 80 children will again participate representing the different provinces and highly urbanized cities nationwide.####