BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development, in partnership with the Regional Inter – Agency Committee on Anti – Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Children (RIACAT – VAWC) member agencies, hosted the weekly Kapihan sa Baguio media forum to promote the advocacy on women and children’s welfare and protection.
Primary on the advocacy is the launching for the 18 – Day Campaign To End Violence Against Women, an annual observance in the country from November 25 to December 12, in support to the Philippine government’s goal to protect the rights of women and its commitment to address all forms of VAW.
For this year, the 18 – day campaign observance adopts the theme, “VAW – free Community Starts with Me”, to raise awareness that violence against women is a public issue of national concern that needs multi – sectoral approach to address.
In the forum, Save Our Women Inc. Executive Director Patricia Gallardo disclosed that at the national level, one of every five Filipino women is a victim of abuse (of any form).
Locally, Baguio City Police Office Women and Children Protection Desk chief, PCI Divina Mencio, reported that from January to October this year there were 884 cases of VAW recorded.
DSWD Regional Director Janet Armas explained that though the regional council on VAW is still working on synchronizing the gathering of VAW cases, the continuing awareness campaign has an effect somehow on the increasing number of women coming out to talk and file complaint.
Armas joined Gallardo and Mencio in appealing to the public, particularly women to come out and report if they think or feel that they are victims of any kind of abuse so that the government and its partners can act accordingly. Even if VAW cases will not push through in court for whatever reason, there are still other services or assistance that can be provided to the victims and their families.
Another advocacy is the observance of Juvenile Justice and Welfare Awareness Week (Nov. 20 – 26) to highlight that even CICL (children in conflict of the Law) are still covered by the human rights of a child under the Constitution.
Armas shared that DSWD is focusing right now on the issue on lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility of minor from 15 years old to 9. She pointed out that CICLs have problems or needs that cannot be addressed by putting them in jail with adults as there are proper interventions that the government and its private partners can give to the CICLs and their families.
With November as Children’s Month, the forum also tackled other concerns about children.
Other panelists were Georaloy Palao – ay DepEd CAR, Tam Jewel Tibaldo of Department of Foreign Affairs – Baguio, Atty. Juliet Camuyot and Atty. Lovella Navarro of the Public Attorney’s Office – Baguio, Keyneth Ambatcad of the Cordillera Youth leaders, and Fr. Gerardo Costa of the Saint Louis University Sunflower Children’s Center. /JDP/CCD – PIA CAR#