Save the Children Philippines is calling on barangays and local government units (LGUs) to strengthen vigilance on cases of domestic abuse and violence as the number of crimes committed against children and women almost tripled during the imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the last three months.
The child rights group expressed concern over the latest recorded 3,600 crimes committed against women and children that were reported to the Philippine National Police as of June 4, 2020. Of this number, 1,745 were cases against children and 1,945 were against women.
Save the Children Philippines noted that the figures reflected a drastic increase from the 1,284 cases recorded by the PNP last 30 April 2020 where 521 of the cases were crimes committed against children and 763 against women.
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, said the number may just be the tip of the iceberg as people were forced to stay home during the ECQ, thus, facing difficulties to report violations to authorities, even to barangays.
“The rising number of crimes committed against children and women is alarming and unacceptable especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when children are already facing psychosocial distress due to school closure and limited mobility, and worse, hunger and malnutrition as parents and guardians face income losses,” said Muyot.
He called on the LGUs to adhere to the Joint Memorandum Circular 2020-001 issued last April 6, 2020 by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC)-issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-001 which reiterates the need for all local government workers, service providers and law enforcers to comply with existing protocols on reaching out to children, including those on the streets, in need of special protection, children at risk, and children in conflict with the law during the ECQ.
The circular mandates local government workers to implement programs, services and mechanisms to prevent and respond to cases of abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence should continue to function even in the current situation to ensure the continued protection of children and their families.
He said LGUs can mobilize community response to monitor the situation of vulnerable households, including a contingency plan for the case of children orphaned or left without appropriate care by severe cases of COVID-19 that require hospitalization.
In addition, community leaders should develop child-friendly information materials to address psychosocial distress among children.
“We call on the government to continue to fulfill its obligation to ensure the protection of all its citizens, particularly the most marginalized, such as the children,” said Muyot.