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Rationalizing the Rights of Children and Youngsters with Disabilities: A Summary of the National Convention

“That children are actively taking part in decisions that affect them. Whether it be at home, school, in community or on an issue ---- children are participating when they are having the views opinion valued and heard.”

(young person, North America}

By Dolores Deang – Soterio,NCWDP

The National Convention on the Fundamental Rights of Children and Youngsters with Disabilities held at the Bayview Park Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Manila on March 13-15, 2006 was the first of its kind ever held in the country. It was the first time where children and youngsters with disabilities discussed and presented from their point of views the promotion, respect and protection of their rights. The 3-day Convention which was attended by approximately 200 participants including those from indigenous communities like Mangyans, able-bodied children, mediators, caregivers and other stakeholders from the 17 regions of the country was meant foremost to rationalize the rights of children and youngster with disabilities. It was a partnership between the Liliane Foundation Philippines and the National Council for the Welfare of Disasbled Persons (NCWDP).

Top government officials including representatives of International Labor Organization (ILO)—Manila Office, non-government organizations, religious groups, local government units and advocates of persons with disabilities were in attendance during the program was the Welcome Remarks of Sr. Agnetia C. Naval, SFIC, National Coordinator and Country Representative of Liliane Foundation Philippines. Other special guests who graced the occasion include Sr. Josephini C. Ambatalli, SFIC, Provincial Superior; Ms. Netty Van Alphen, Board Member, Liliane Stichting Fonds-Netherlands; and Director Catalina L. Fermin of NCWDP, who delivered an enlivening message concerning the fundamental rights of children with disabilities. The keynote message of the guest speaker, Executive Director Lina B. Laigo of the Council for the Welfare of Children, was read in her behalf by Deputy Executive Director Ma. Elena Caraballo. Ms. Laigo’s message highlighted the government’s mission to protect the children and youngsters with disabilities from discrimination and develop their potentials to become contributing members of the country. On the other hand, Ms. Serenidad Lavador, Technical Adviser of the Internationa Labor Organization-Manila Office, presented a brief and comprehensive overview of the Philippines’ Situationer on Child Labor.


A Press Conference conducted before the start of the National Convention on the Foundamental Rights of Children and Youngsters with Disabilities. (From left to right) Ms. Netty Van Alphen, Board member, Liliane Stichting Fonds Netherland; Sister Agnetia Naval, SFIC, LFP Country Representative; Ms. Catalina L. Fermin, NCWDP Executive Director; Ms. Elena Caraballo, Deputy Executive Director, Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC); and Ms. Farida Yasmin, National Coordinator, Liliane Stichting Fonds-Bangladesh.

Parada of delegates during the Opening Ceremony

Group session among the participants during the Convention

A Group Session participated in by mediators, parents, caregivers, and other professionals.

A parade of delegates officially signaled the start of the Convention proper. Thereafter, two simultaneous sessions were held that focused on the four (4) fundamental righrs of children, namely; (1) survival, (2) the rights to development, (3) the right to protection, and (4) the right to participation.

One session group was participated in by the mediators, parents, caregivers and other professionals, while the other group had children and youngsters with disabilities as participants.

Under the children’s group, the rights were presented/illustrated through the following methods:

  1. Story Telling: Right to Survival by a resource person from Museong Pambata.
  2. Puppet Show: Right to Development by NCWDP Puppeteers.
  3. Creative Drama: Right to Protection also Presented by a resource person from Museong Pambata.
  4. Power Point Presentation: Right to Participation by Ms. Flor Calalang, DSWD Child Specialist.

The adults group had the following experts as resource persons who provided inputs for the workshop discussions:

1.Rights to Survival Dr. Maric Theresa Arranz-Lim Developmental Pediatrician Angeles City, Pampanga

2.Rights to Development Ms. Veronica Ester Mendoza Clinical Psychologist Philippine Program Officer Keystone Accountability, UK

3.Rights to Protection Dr. Stella Manalo Clinical Specialist Child Protection Unit, University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital Manila

4.Rights to Participation Ms. Macrina Morados Assistant Professor Institute of Islam Study University of the Philippines-Diliman Quezon City

5.Mr. Mario Abaygar Board Member, National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons, and Project Manager, Association of Disabled Persons-IIoilo

A testimony of Ms. Masura Khatun from Bangladesh, further illustrated the issues and concerns of the right to protection which was one of the main focus of the Convention. Ms. Khatun was reportedly raped at a young age and was not given justice both by the community and the law. Her perpetrator escaped unscathed.

After each presentation/illustration of the four fundamental rights, each group had small group discussions to identify issues and concerns including the recommendations to address them. The group of children and youngsters used collage, acrostics, songs, poems, paintings. drama and poster in the presentation of their outputs.

A presentation of Ms. Flor Calalang on the "Right to Participation."

A purppet show presentation depiciting the "Right to Development" of a child.

The “adults group” presented the results of their discussions including their recommendations to adderss the issues of children and youngsters with disabilities through reporting except the right to participation where they used drama as the medium. All these presentations were made during plenary sessions.

The signing of two Declarations, namely; Declarartion of Concerns of Children and Youngsters with Disabilities, and Declaration of Concern and Support highlighted the Closing Ceremony of the Convention which was witnessed by ranking government officials led by Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral of DSWD, concurrent NCWDP Chairperson

Ms. Dolores Deang-Soterio is the incumbent Chief of the
Programs Management Division of this Council.


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