With the ongoing armed conflict in Mindanao, Senator Tito Sotto III thought of creating a law that would give special protection to the children in war-torn areas.
Sotto filed the Senate Bill No. 1474, entitled “Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act,” to ensure that the rights, welfare and protection of children are of utmost priority of the government.
“Children affected by war are robbed of their innocence. The trauma of losing their family members, constant displacement and the disruption of their education during their formative years creates a life-long effect of distrust and insecurity,” the legislator said.
“Hence, our children being the hope of our present and future nation and the foundation of a vibrant and dynamic society, should be protected.” the lawmaker added.
The issue of children in war is a problem that is being addressed worldwide because of their susceptibility and vulnerability. They are the ones who suffer the most from the decisions of the adults in combat.
In the Philippines alone, the UNICEF estimated that around 30,000-50,000 children in the Philippines are displaced every year as a result of armed conflict. Children are recruited and forced to become soldiers due to the fact that they can be easily manipulated and abused.
One of the salient features of the bill is declaring the children as a “zone of peace” in order that their rights be promoted and protected at all times, especially in situations of armed conflict or violence. And the State shall take all feasible measures to prevent the recruitment, re-recruitment, use or displacement of children involved in armed conflict.
Sotto cited in his bill the state policies under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article II Section 13; and under Article XV Section 3.
Anyone found guilty of killing the children, tortured committed against children, intentional maiming of children and rape of children shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment.