Despite progress, children are deprived of basic rights in the Philippines

Government and UNICEF launched the Situation Analysis of Children in the Philippines with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of children

09 October 2018

MANILA, 9 October 2018—Over the past decades, the Philippines has made significant strides toward realizing child rights especially since the ratification and commitment to realizing the Convention of the Rights of Children in 1990. 

Infant mortality was reduced from 41 to 21 per 1000 live births and under-5 child mortality from 59 to 27 between 1990 and 2015. While this represents major progress, more intense work is needed to further reduce infant and child mortality targets of 15 and 22 respectively.

Filipino children are still facing multiple and deep-rooted deprivations and vulnerabilities that impede their survival, development, protection and participation according to the latest Situation Analysis of Children in the Philippines summary report based on data gathered in 2017, launched today by the Government of the Philippines and UNICEF.

Assistant Secretary Carlo Bernardo O. Abad Santos of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) representing Secretary Ernesto Pernia, congratulated UNICEF for the initiative and support in putting together the Situation Analysis. “The spirit of partnership especially with UNICEF is invaluable in ensuring enabling environment for the children to achieve their full potential.”

He also expressed hope that the report will serve as a guide to address the issues and concerns faced by children. NEDA was UNICEF’s key partner in conducting the research along with a large number of line departments.

“Let us join hands together to support and protect our children against any form of violence, rights violations and deprivations, especially on these their tender years,” said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova, speaking in behalf of DSWD Secretary Virginia Orogo.

“The Situation Analysis will guide the Philippines to address key issues such as how to channel the dividends of economic growth to EVERY Filipino child – especially the one in three living in poverty and those who fall off the radar for living in remote, marginalised communities or due to their social-economic, religious, ethnic identity. The Report offers a framework for a wide range of issues affecting children, so we are able to support the Government to improve the systems and services to reach children in need,” said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines Representative, “UNICEF as always is ready to support the Government through our 70-year strong partnership.”

Adolescent speakers Paul Vincent Rodriguez and Bianca Mae Bernardo shared accounts on how children experience deprivations reported in the situation analysis.

Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte also spoke at the event expressing their support and commitment to promote and protect children, followed by a Call to Action by youth representatives from the Sangguniang Kabataaan, indigenous, reproductive health and children affected by armed conflict sectors. Young artists from the Virlanie Foundation Choir and ANAK Teatro ng Culiat also performed at the launch event.

Key findings from the Situation Analysis include:

  • Around 31 per cent of children live below the basic needs poverty line, with a much higher figure (63 per cent) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
  • Although the Philippines has reduced the overall child mortality rates between 1990 and 2015, under-5 mortality is still high in ARMM at the rate of 55 per 1,000 live births, a long way still from the national targets of 15 for infants and 22 for children under five.
  • Poor nutrition in very young children is a major problem when compared to the regional average of 11 per cent in East Asia and the Pacific: 33 per cent of children under five are stunted or too short for their age, and 21 per cent are underweight. Significantly more children in ARMM are stunted at 45 per cent.
  • The Philippines is close to universal access to safe drinking water (90 per cent in 2015). Those without access belong to the poorest households with only 80 per cent having basic drinking water, compared to 99 per cent of the wealthiest households. Only 62 per cent of people in ARMM have access.
  • Access to education is encouraging, yet an estimated 2.85 million children aged 5-15 remain out of school. As of 2015, only 91 per cent were enrolled in primary school, and 68 per cent in secondary. ARMM reported substantially lower rates at 75 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
  • Children in the Philippines, regardless of socio-economic status, experience high levels of violence: 2 in 3 are physically, and psychologically abused. Cyberviolence has emerged as a serious threat with the Philippines becoming a source, transit and destination country for commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.
  • The Philippines also failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals in these areas by the target year of 2015.

The Situation Analysis of Children in the Philippines recommends a range of measures to address barriers and causes that prevent girls and boys from accessing their rights. These include creating child-friendly laws and policies that are effectively implemented; increasing government spending for quality social services; improving gathering and use of data on vulnerable groups of children, and conducting more research on the implications of social norms on children’s rights and promoting positive social norms.

Media contacts

Zafrin Chowdhury
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Philippines
Tel: +63 917 867 8366
Marge Francia
Communication Officer
UNICEF Philippines
Tel: +63 917 858 9447


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