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Program launch and Seminar for the Protection of Children left behind by the OFWs held in Davao City

April 17, 2017
Program launch and Seminar for the Protection of Children left behind by the OFWs held in Davao City

Davao City - Pursuant to the joint agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for the provision of full protection to children left behind by the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), a program launch and a seminar was held last March 30, 2017 at The Ritz Hotel at Garden Oases, Davao City with Director Carmelina F. Velasquez, representing OWWA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, as the honored guest.

 

The seminar-program is designed to empower caregivers and program implementers on the rights and responsibilities of children and the prevention of such abuses and violence in the community. Likewise, it aims to heighten the awareness of the participants on the issues and problems concerning children left behind by the OFWs, identify appropriate intervention for the protection of children left behind, invoke appropriate attitudes of the participants to broaden their perspectives in dealing   with the issues, establish convergence program with OWWA, DSWD, DOJ and LGUs, and formulate an action plan to address such issues and problems.

 

Resource Speakers from DSWD and DOJ provided substantial inputs to draw the attention of one-hundred forty five (145) participants on the condition and situation of the left behind OFW children. Representatives from the partner government agencies, non-government organizations, members of OFW Family Circles in Davao Region, and OWWA Regional Directors including their Family Welfare Officers in Mindanao attended the one-day seminar.

 

OWWA-RWO XI Regional Director welcomed all guests and participants and provided the rationale of the seminar. “The vulnerability of left behind children to child abuse and violence are high when there is parental absence and caregivers are not providing such love and care that was expected from them because of the absence of attachment to the left behind child”, Dir. Bellido said.

 

In her message, Dir. Velasquez emphasized that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) compliments to R.A. 7610 (An Act Providing Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination) and RA 9262 (An Act on Violence against Women and Children). “The agreement will also provide a strategic component to further enhance the campaign and coordination among government agencies to provide welfare, assistance, prevention and remedial mechanism against child abuse and exploitation, particularly on the children of OFWs”, said Dir. Velasquez, the Vice-Chairperson of the OWWA’s Committee on Child Protection.

 

DOJ Prosecutor, Atty. Janet Grace B. Dalisay-Fabrero and DSWD Assistant to the Regional Director for Operations, Ms. Rebecca A. Sta. Maria likewise gave their message of support to the campaign.

 

Ms. Pedrita Dimakiling, the Head of DSWD Community-based Services Unit, presented the data of children left behind as served by its office. Based on the data presented (CY 2016 and 1st Quarter 2017), a total of forty (40) OFWs were served and six (6) of them were cases of child abuse including the case of a 2-year old child who died due to mauling and physical injuries inflicted by the child’s Aunt and Uncle while his mother works in Bahrain. Other topics discussed by Ms. Dimakiling include: the effects of migration to children left behind; protocol in handling child victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation; and preventive and rehabilitative programs and services to children.

 

DOJ Assistant Regional Prosecutor Ritzel R. Polinar, on the other hand, discussed the Salient Features of Republic Act 7610 and other relevant laws designed to provide special protection to children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination. In order to have a clear understanding of the said law, Prosecutor Polinar defined child abuse as any act which inflicts physical or psychological injury, cruelty to or the neglect, sexual abuse of, or which exploits a child. Other forms of child abuse were likewise enumerated and discussed by Atty. Polinar.

 

June Mark Cagalitan, the older brother of John Earl gave his testimony on how painful being left by a loved one who suffered and died of physical abuse from their relatives. He expressed his gratitude to OWWA, DOJ and DSWD for launching a program that will protect and monitor the OFW children. “With this program, I hope that there will be no more OFW children who will suffer from any forms of abuse like my brother”, he said.

 

An open forum was also held after the discussion and presentation of the resource speakers wherein various issues and concerns were addressed and given clarifications.

 

Finally, a workshop identifying the gaps and issues concerning protection for children left behind by the OFWs was done to serve as basis in formulating program of action of concerned agencies and institutions. Some of the gaps and issues identified include; lack of information about the laws, no available data of children left behind, deterioration of good values, among others.

 

OWWA XI Supervising Officer Carmelo T. Elaya, in his closing remarks, challenged all the stakeholders to do their part in ensuring full protection for children left behind by the OFWs.

Participants from the partner government agencies, non-government organization, members of the OFW Family Circles and OWWA personnel from the different regions in Mindanao.
Participants listened to the welcome message of OWWA-RWO XI Regional Director Eduardo E. Bellido.
OWWA-RWO XI Regional Director Eduardo E. Bellido presented the rationale of the seminar.
Director Carmelina F. Velasquez delivered a message during the program on behalf of Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac.
Ms. Pedrita Dimakiling, Head of DSWD Community-based Services Unit discussed the effects of migration to children left behind and protocol in handling child victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
DOJ Assistant Regional Prosecutor Ritzel R. Polinar discussed the Salient Features of R.A. 7610 and other relative laws designed to provide special protection to children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination.
Ms. Inorosa S. Elento from the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Action, Inc. asked clarifications on the creation of committee for the protection of children left behind by the OFWs during the open forum which was addressed by Dir. Carmelina F. Velasquez.
Mati City OFC President Arlen Vicente suggested to have an interactive and fruitful activities for the OFW children to divert their attention.
Participants from the non-government organizations exchanged thoughts during the workshop.
Participants wrote their identified gaps and issues as well as recommendations during the workshop.
OWWA XI Supervising Welfare Officer Carmelo T. Elaya in his closing remarks.
Dir. Carmelina F. Velasquez during her interview with ABS-CBN Davao reporter Vina Araneta.
OWWA XI Regional Director Eduardo E. Bellido was interviewed by different media personnel from TV and radio stations.
June Mark Cagalitan, the older brother of John Earl gave his testimony on how painful being left by a loved one who suffered and died of physical abuse from their relatives.