Mindanao putting children first with help of UNICEF, AusAID
DAVAO CITY, 21 April 2006 – Local chief executives renewed their commitment to the “Child-Friendly Movement: Accelerated Efforts to Reduce Disparities in Southern Philippines” during the programme’s formal launch yesterday with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Australian government.
The Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) provided P900 million (US$17 million) for the programme.
“I am pleased to be in the presence of our committed partners who are working very hard to achieve the goals for children. We hope that Australia’s current support is able to assist the Philippines in empowering its local communities to promote and protect child rights, and improve the living standards of children. We are heartened with this continuing engagement, and we reaffirm our commitment to the Filipino children,” Australian Ambassador Tony Hely said.
Australia has been a partner in promoting the welfare of Filipino children since 1989. In the previous years, its financial support helped achieve significant improvements in the programme’s components: basic education; health and nutrition; children in need of special protection; HIV/AIDS prevention; local policy and institutional development; and, communication for the promotion of children’s rights.
“The Country Programme has been beneficial for the Province of Zamboanga del Sur,” said Governor Aurora Cerilles. “We earnestly thank UNICEF and the Government of Australia for bestowing us this trust and confidence. Rest assured that our partnership for the cause of children and women will bring forth far greater transformation and advancement of their participation and empowerment.”
Through their representatives, the concerned governors and mayor committed to do their part to make the Child-Friendly Movement translate into better lives for children in Southern Philippines, such as:
• Davao City pledged to “strive to generate, allocate and mobilize resources for children both at the city and Barangay levels”;
• Sarangani is enhancing its Provincial and Municipal Development Plans for Children, with the aim of reducing disparities in the situation of children among various municipalities of the province, and to increase its investment for social services;
• Northern Samar promised not to stop “to look for other means to address children’s needs”.
“Together, we can make our vision for Southern Philippines a reality – children enjoying their rights, children having a bright future within caring and protective families. This is the heart of the Child-Friendly Movement, we are all responsible for protecting the rights of children and women,” Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Country Representative to the Philippines, said.
Other local chief executives who reiterated their commitment representing the 10 focus areas included Vice-Mayor Luis Bonguyan (Davao City), Vice-Governor Virginia Getes (Agusan del Sur), Vice-Governor Alex Calingasan (Bukidnon), Vice-Governor Datu Bimbo Sinsuat (Maguindanao), Vice-Governor Jesus Sacdalan (North Cotabato), Vice-Governor Bridget Chiongbian-Huang (Sarangani), Provincial Board member Maritess Gillamac (Northern Samar), Provincial Board member Leonidas dela Cerna (Sultan Kudarat), and Provincial Planning and Development Officer Bertrand Chio (Sulu).
Dr. Alipui further urged all the partners to: regularly report on the situation of children and women; support efforts to strengthen monitoring systems; invest in the children’s early years; review local budget allocation for education; create functional councils for children’s protection; activate and lead local AIDS councils; legislate an increase in annual appropriation for social services; and develop and monitor local plans and codes for children.
After the launch, the partners of the Child-Friendly Movement visited two project sites, which are recipients of the UNICEF-AusAID programme in Davao City. These are the a home-based Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) under the basic education component, and the Tambayan Center for the Care of Abused Children under the children in need of special protection component.