MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Sunday is calling for unity in protecting children from harm and for greater investment in their development, as the National Children's Month commences.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia stressed that welfare of children and their best interest are even more crucial during a period of crisis.
"Children may not be as vulnerable to COVID-19 compared to other age groups, but they equally suffer from the secondary effects and the measures taken to combat the virus," de Guia said.
"Many children have suffered from cruel and degrading measures for violating curfew rules and protocols particularly during the beginning of the quarantine," she added.
Children also feel the socio-economic effect of the pandemic, with an observed increase in online sexual exploitation and domestic abuse of children.
The global health crisis has also greatly affected children's mental health and development as they adjust to the "new normal," including distance learning, confinement at home, and the loss of livelihood of their parents and guardians.
"It is our collective duty to uphold children's rights amidst any circumstance. The welfare of children and their best interest are primordial in normal times and even more so during a period of crisis," said de Guia.
"Children are our future and their development can have repercussions on the society as a whole," she added. "In our national observance (of Children's Month), let us be united in protecting children from any harm while continuing to invest in their development."
De Guia called on services that provide protection and rescue of children from abuse and exploitation to be made more accessible and responsive, as well as for greater awareness on how communities can protect children.
She also stressed the importance of implementing holistic programs to create a nurturing environment for children -- including providing support for the parents and guardians, particularly during the quarantine period.
"It is our duty to create a positive environment for children despite these challenging times," said De Guia. "Through our collective effort, let us foster a nurturing environment where the rights of all children are protected and their needs are provided to enable them to hope, dream, and grow amid the disruption brought on by the pandemic."
The theme for this year's National Children's Month, according to CHR, is: "Sama-samang Itaguyod ang Karapatan ng Bawat Bata sa Panahon ng Pandemya." The Universal Children's Day will be observed on November 20, 2020.