Ulat Bulilit unravels trauma, HRVs among children

Dominic Gutoman
3 min readMar 25, 2024

By DOMINIC GUTOMAN
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Cases of trauma and human rights violations were reported by children’s rights groups in a forum at the Commission on Human Rights on Friday, March 15.

The forum “Ulat Bulilit” provided context on the situation of children in terms of livelihood, human rights, and freedom. It is led by Salinlahi — Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Child Rehabilitation Center (CRC), and Parent’s Alternative on Early Childhood Care and Development, Inc. (PAECCDI).

“Children failed to fully realize their rights because they also bear the brunt of economic problems faced by their parents — low wages, contractualization, joblessness,” Miguel Gonzales, spokesperson of Salinlahi, said.

He stressed that children remain hungry, without access to proper health care because of their parents’ low wages.

A family of five in the National Capital Region (NCR) should have P1,198 a day to live decently, according to economic think-tank Ibon Foundation. However, the minimum wage remains at P610.

“In more than one year of Marcos Jr.’s administration, the poverty and loss of opportunities continue to exacerbate for the majority of Filipino families,” Gonzales said, underscoring how it transcends to education.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2022, around 7.85 million children and youth (aged 5–24) did not attend school. In addition to this, 2023 data of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) stated that 72% of the children who are studying are identified as low achievers in Reading, Math, and Science.

“The crisis in education contributes to the poor learning development of the children. The government should allocate more budget to the education sector,” Gonzales said, adding that only 2.2 to 2.6 percent are allocated to the education sector in the Philippine budget, failing to meet the required 4 to 6 percent international standard of budget allocation from the United Nations.

On top of the HRVs in the socio-economic facet, the children continue to suffer from civil and political rights violations. In the report of the CRC, they found out that children suffer from trauma due to forced displacement, militarization, and even child prostitution. This has been evident in the regions of Central Luzon, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, and even NCR.

These are the highlights of the CRC report:

  • 800 families are victims of forced displacement (Central Luzon)
  • The practice of child prostitution in Angeles, Pampanga due to nearby US military bases in the area and NCR due to extreme poverty
  • 478 classroom deficiencies in the Bicol region
  • 1 out of 12 is malnourished in the Bicol region
  • Militarization due to development projects under Build Better More in Southern Tagalog
  • 14 years old as the youngest victim of sexual abuse committed by the Philippine military in Southern Tagalog
  • Records of child labor in the workers’ factories in NCR
  • Workers need to work for 10–12 hours daily to achieve the minimum wage (NCR)

“All these data lead to orphanhood, trauma, and emerging mental health sickness. Some of the children also find it hard to socialize with other children,” said social worker Cherry Guillermo, who is also part of the CRC.

Guillermo stressed that the HRVs children suffer will impact them in biological, physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and economic aspects. “We should start giving children the appropriate attention. We should include them in our programs, documentation, organizing, and even observation.”

To help the children navigate the trauma, CRC promotes community healing to promote the inclusion of children and the collective responsibility of society to raise them. Their organization also spearheads art and play therapy for children and other psycho-social and relief interventions.

“We should start believing in their capacity — that they can do more and understand the realities they are in. They can understand why their lands are being seized and why they are being forced to vacate their homes,” Guillermo said. (RTS, DAA)

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Dominic Gutoman

Covers human rights, environment, grassroots initiatives, and accountability mechanisms at bulatlat.com.