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Executive Director Patricia Luna of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) expresses grave concern on the article which appeared on page 18 of the Philippine Star published on 13 July 2015 entitled “MPD rounds up street kids for mugging tourists” by Mr. Rey Galupo.

The report indicated several incidents of robbery and pick pocketing among tourists which involved six street children ages 10 to 12 years. The report also stated that the children belong to a gang handled by certain “Kuya”, who stays near the Ermita church.

CWC is the government’s inter-agency body mandated to formulate policies and plans for children’s well-being and monitor the implementation and enforcement of laws to protect and promote children’s rights reiterate the following statements:

1. The Street children are victims not criminals. Republic Act 9344 otherwise known “Juvenile Justice Welfare Act” classify street children as “children at risks” which refer to a child who is vulnerable to and at the risk of committing criminal offenses because of personal, family and social circumstances such as being abuse, exploited, abandoned or neglected, coming from a dysfunctional family, out of school, being member of gang and coming and living in a community with high level of criminality and drug abuse;

2. Section 14 of RA 9344 emphasizes the role of the mass media as follows “the mass media shall play an active role in the promotion of child rights, and delinquency prevention by relaying consistent messages through a balanced approach. Media practitioners shall, therefore, have the duty to maintain the highest critical and professional standards in reporting and covering cases of children in conflict with the law. In all publicity concerning children, the best interest of the child should be the primordial and paramount concern. Any undue, inappropriate and sensationalized publicity of any case involving a child in conflict with the law is hereby declared a violation of the child's rights”,

3. Compliance to the Protocol to Reach Out to Street Children per CWC Board Resolution No. 2 series of 2011 and DSWD-DILG Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2012 specifically on the term “Round Up” which should not be used instead it will be ”Rescue or Reach-Out” as a process by which the street children are taken away from the streets and hazardous environment;

4. The Police should investigate the so called “Kuya” mentioned in the report, who allegedly the leader of the gang where the children are believed to be members and prosecute if found guilty of a violation of law on robbery and pick pocketing under the Revised Penal Code;

5. Since this is a coordinated activity with the local social welfare office as mentioned in the news article, we also enjoin the said office to provide the needed appropriate intervention to these minors and their families based on their mandate; and

6. The LOCAL COUNCIL FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN and BARANGAY COUNCIL FOR THE PROTECION OF CHILDREN of the concerned LGU should take action such as monitoring the activities of the street children and provision of diversion program to prevent delinquency. Care and protection of children should be a paramount concern of our BARANGAYS.

Mr. Elino L Bardillon
Public Affairs Information Office
Telephone No. 7811039 local 1006

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