MANILA, Philippines - “Learning by doing.” This is how child rights advocates teach children the different concepts related to their rights. And this is exactly how they taught children the right to freely express opinions and the value of collective action.
In a gathering of child rights advocates, various child-focused NGOs formed the Child Rights Advocates Act against Corruption and Tyranny Now! (Children ACT Now!) and came up with a unity statement that condemned the practice of corruption by government officials at the expense of the budget for basic services for children and their families.
“We are appalled that millions of pesos in cash for bribes changed hands among those in power while our children and their families struggle to work for a whole day’s subsistence,” their unity statement read.
The group also expressed their disgust at President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her family, as well as her cronies for living off “on people’s money while our children work on the streets, in quarries, in sweatshops and even in dirty canals and rivers to earn a decent living.”
Representatives of the group led by Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA), Konkokyo Peace Activity Center (KPAC),Children’s Network Against Corruption and Deceit and Magulang at Paslit Laban sa Digmaan at Karahasan (MAPALAD-KA) carried an oversized styro slipper representing the collective action of child rights workers.
They used the slipper to hit an over-sized can representing corruption in government, as in the children’s game, Tumbang Preso. “Our children do not deserve her disgraceful and dishonorable government. We demand that GMA account and face the consequences of this unbelievable degree of corruption. We must continue to teach our children that for every wrong done, there is accountability.”
While child rights advocates’ greatest virtue is patience, they said that their “patience with the Arroyo government has grown thin and time has run out”. They added that “our children deserve a better government, better leaders and a better future, without Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacanang.”
In order to realize this, they are calling on child rights advocates from all over the country, as well as the children -- the future generation, to exercise vigilance against future leaders who may do just the same or even worse than what Arroyo is doing now.
The group planned a series of activities that involved discussions among parents and children in their communities on the issue of corruption vis-à-vis the situation of children through various creative forms. They are also slated to do a forum-interaction on corruption to be participated in by about 500 children and child rights advocates on February 25.
Joining the national organizations in the alliance are child rights organizations Kabiba Alliance from Southern Mindanao based in Davao City and the Children’s Rehabilitation Center- Panay Regional Office based in Iloilo City. More organizations are expected to join the alliance in the next few days.