Provincial officials, department heads and line agencies were in attendance to show their support during the 2019 State of the Children Address. Here, Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. poses with provincial officials and winners of the Provincial Children’s Month contest.
Bontoc – Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. stressed on the child’s right to education and the right to protection during his 2019 State of the Children Address (SOCA) held at RidgeBrooke Hotel and Restaurant, Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province on November 27,2019.
According to Governor Lacwasan, giving a child access to education will not only give a child his/her right but will empower him/her to fight for his other rights. The governor said that education will make a child realize that there is a corresponding responsibility that he has to perform as member of the community.
DepEd Mountain Province reported that there are 2,648 children enrolled in kindergarten for school year 2019 to 2020. The governor mentioned that when a child reaches the age of three, he starts formal education and enters kindergarten. He further said that experiences during the kindergarten will provide children the foundation that they could use in the coming years.
“A quality education could be attained with enough classrooms, enough teachers, and enough facilities. We are lucky that in Mountain Province the availability of classroom is not a problem because the classroom-student ratio is far better than the national standard,” Lacwasan said.
Moreover, the governor emphasized that the physical development of schools and other learning facilities are among the priorities of the provincial government. He said that the amount of 9.3 million pesos from the Special Education Fund was allotted to improve and construct facilities in various schools in the province. This includes the improvement of the Children’s Park and the swimming pool where athletes could be trained to be competitive athletes in the future.
Furthermore, Lacwasan said that the provincial government continues to provide financial aid to 600 individuals in the amount of 4000 pesos per semester to help needy student pursue college. Also, another financial aid is given to three medical students who will soon serve our Provincial Hospital. 200,000 pesos per semester is given to each student.
“In terms of providing conducive learning environment, we have gone a step forward, but there are still issues that we must ponder on. DepEd reported that there is a low participation among our children. As to the vision of our government that all children must finish at least secondary education, let us try to find out why not all are in school and try to convince them to attend school,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, aside from the right to education, Lacwasan also emphasized on another right which needs immediate consideration – the child’s right to protection.
He shared that data obtained from the Provincial Trial Court Office of the Provincial Prosecutor disclosed that from October last year to September this year, there are six cases of rape, six cases of acts lasciviousness, and five cases of physical abuse against children. Of the total 17 cases, five were already solved, one is archived while the other is still undergoing litigation.
The Department of Labor and Employment also provided that there are 290 children laborers. These children are exposed to long hours of work not appropriate for their age. They are exposed to heavy work load and exposed to chemicals which endanger their health. Lacwasan urged the Barangay Officials and concerned citizens to help in saving these children by sending them back to school.
In addition, the problem on illegal drugs has also tainted children. The Provincial Police Office and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council recorded 22 children in the list of drug personalities in the province. The Provincial Police Office also reported cases where the alleged perpetrators are children.
According to Governor Lacwasan, with these realities, we cannot allow our children to be unsafe in their own backyards. “We must have to solve it because more children will be involved if we will not put our acts together. We have started it so let us not think twice but to continue our cooperation for the sake of our children,” he said.
Meanwhile, the provincial government is closely working with partners thru the Provincial Council for the Protection of Children (PCPC) in monitoring, implementing and informing policies, programs and projects relative to the survival, development, protection and participation of children.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology conducted a Read-a-Book activity to day care children at Alab Proper and Alab Oriente while the Mountain Province State Polytechnic college continued to offer counselling services to students and trainings that promote women’s health.
The Provincial SK Federation and the Local Youth Development Office conducted Provincial Sports Fest and campaigned to raise the awareness of the youth on mental and reproductive health and on the evils of illegal drug use.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development had given educational assistance to 33 children and medical assistance to 32 children and the supplemental feeding Program which was benefited by 4,758 children. The Department of Interior and Local Government Unit conducted also the Child- Friendly Local Government Audit.
The Bontoc General Hospital provided medical attention to exploited children while the Provincial Health Office continued to conduct health programs and activities to ensure the health of mothers such as pre-natal care, immunization, and breastfeeding campaigns.
The Provincial Population and Development Office conducted Adolescent Health Development Program that trained 2,375 students on how to manage the crucial stages of adolescence and lastly the National Statistics Authority provided some of the needed data on children.
To end his address, Lacwasan thanked all the offices for their cooperation and appealed for their continuous help. “We are fighting an uphill battle but with your help, I am sure we can win it,” he said.