DSWD chief: Pursue peace for children’s sake

“Children, next to older persons, bear the brunt of armed conflict. They are the most affected, the most vulnerable, and the most compromised. They are affected not only physically, but also psychologically, mentally, and emotionally.”

This is the reminder of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman as she reiterated her call for peace and harmony in Mindanao for the sake of the children.

She mentioned the death of an eight year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire at the height of the clash between the commandos of the Special Action Force (SAF) and the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano on January 25.

“Long lasting peace in Mindanao should be pursued. If armed conflict continues, more children will become casualties,” Sec. Soliman said.

She added that the trauma of war lingers longer on children, and they usually retain this as adults.

“This is what the people who are calling for war should realize. The biggest losers in any event of infighting are innocent children who get caught in the crossfire,” she added.

Aside from the shocks children undergo because of conflict, their chances of experiencing developments in their communities are significantly reduced. Sec. Soliman pointed out that continued armed conflict shatters the gains of peace and reverses developments.

According to her, peace is already working in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly for the 416,637 family-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.  In fact, because of the program, 1,158,021 children are able to go to school.

Aside from Pantawid Pamilya, DSWD has also undertaken various programs and projects in ARMM. These include the construction of day care centers, Modified Shelter Assistance Project, Emergency Shelter Assistance, Supplementary Feeding, Sustainable Livelihood, and Cash-For-Work.

In Mamasapano alone, DSWD has implemented the following projects since 2009: Pantawid Pamilya for 3,494 families (2009), Sustainable Livelihood Program for 1,500 families (2012-2014), modified shelter under the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) for 53 families (2012), training center under the Bottom Up Budgeting (2013),  P2 million worth of livelihood assistance (2015), supplementary feeding for 1,616 children (2012-2015), and social pension for 826 indigent older persons (2012 -2015).

By safeguarding peace and harmony in Mindanao, Sec. Soliman believes that the children will be protected and thus, will be able to grow into active citizens.

Even the children of Mamasapano are one in demanding for peace.

“Sekami a mga wata siya sa Mamasapano dikami galilini sa kapedtimbaka nya nami galinyan na kapamagayon edo kalilintad,” the children said. “Nasisita nami su tabang na gobyerno endu makatalus su kabangagi nami endu maaden su gapangingarap nami a mapya a kabaguyag.”

(We, the children of Mamasapano, denounce war. We want unity and peace. We need the continuing help of the government to ensure that we will finish school and realize our dreams.)

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