UPI, Maguindanao, Philippines, 27 September 2019 – UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador Gary Valenciano visits the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to express UNICEF’s support to BARMM leaders to make children the centrepiece of their policies and decision-making. His visit also serves as UNICEF Philippines’ kick-off event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most universally accepted human rights agreement in history.
“I am pleased to be here to witness first-hand the dramatic changes happening in the BARMM region with children and young people’s participation to make sure their voices are heard. I applaud the Bangsamoro government for consulting children and young people and hearing the solutions they can offer,” the longest-serving UNICEF Ambassador said.
Admired by Filipinos by the popular name, “Mr. Pure Energy” Gary V met with BARMM officials, Members of Parliament, and local government officials in Upi, Maguindanao. He also met children at a day care centre and elementary school and was introduced to the tri-peoples of Muslim, Christian and settler communities. He interacted with Teduray children and learned about their unique and colourful culture. He capped off his visit with a concert to inspire children and young people of Upi.
Bangsamoro children, including indigenous children, are among the poorest in the country. Child poverty, or the proportion of children living in poor households, is highest of all regions in the country at 63% (ARMM figure) twice higher than the national average at over 31% (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2015). This means that over 1.5 million children out of 2.5 million children in BARMM are living below the basic needs poverty line.
Working with the new BARMM government, UNICEF is playing a significant role, to secure highest level of commitment to a child-friendly, gender-sensitive and sustainable future through programs that puts the most vulnerable and at-risk children and young people at the centre of advocacy, policies and decisions; emphasizes adolescent/youth leadership to promote a culture of peace; strengthens the role of religious leaders; strengthens capacities for at-scale impact across all provinces; expands social protection for the poorest families and uses data and evidence to highlight gaps and mobilise action. And to support participation of children in matters that concern their future.
UNICEF works closely with the concerned ministries, particularly with the ministries of local government, education, social services and health, among others to protect and promote the rights of children most in need.
“UNICEF is committed to supporting a peaceful and united Bangsamoro as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Gary’s visit aims to shed light on the exciting developments happening in BARMM and the active role that children and young people are playing in ensuring that the child right’s agenda is heard, loud and clear. We thank the leaders for ensuring that there are venues for young people to express their views,” UNICEF Chief of Mindanao Field Office Andrew Morris says.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.