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Philippine News Digest 66

January 12, 2004 · 

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Contents:
-Child rights group seeks alternative to jails for kids

-World celebrates Global March Against Child Labor

-HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to spread

Child rights group seeks alternative to jails for kids
The Coalition to Stop Child Detention Through Restorative Justice composed of 25 organizations and concerned individuals nationwide presented an appeal January 7 by concerned citizens to Justice Acting Secretary Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez to children upon arrest to the custody of social workers or responsible community members rather than hauling them off to jail to suffer from dehumanization and trauma. They cited statistics from the Department of Social welfare and Development to underscore the increasing number of jailed kids. During the first quarter of 2003 alone, 4,544 kids consisting of 4,103 boys and 441 girls from all over the country have been jailed. Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) statistics also shows that 2,039 kids have been imprisoned as of September 2003—including 473 who have been charged with theft and 384 others with robbery. The following day, around 100 members of the coalition marched to Mendiola Bridge near the Presidential Palace in Manila to ask the President to stop this serious form of human rights violation characterized by the torture, rape, tattooing and subjection of children to indignities and to strictly enforce the law pertaining to the rights of these children.

World celebrates Global March Against Child Labor
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9231 otherwise known as the anti-child labor law December 19, 2003 making the country first in the international community to pass a statute based on the philosophy of the ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The new law increased the penalty on employing a child to P1 million and imprisonment of not more than 20 years. While the law is considered a big success in the campaign against child labor, child rights advocates expressed concern over its implementation since many well-meaning laws remain un-implemented and/or violated by government officials themselves. The Philippine Commission on Human Rights recently revealed that the Philippine National Police topped the list of agencies in terms of human rights violations. On January 17, the world will celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Global March Against Child Labor. In the Philippines, there are more than four million child laborers, an increase by 11 percent compared to the 3.7 child laborers in 1996, according to the National Statistics Office.

HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to spread
Five million people were infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, in 2003 bringing the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS to 40 million. Of these, almost three million are below 15 years of age. 21.8 million people have died of AIDS since the disease was discovered leaving more than 14 million children orphaned. Sub-Saharan Africa still tops the list of regions in the world in terms of the number of people living with HIV/AIDS with 25-28.2 million, followed by South and Southeast Asia with 4.6-8.2 million and Latin America with 1.3-1.9 million.

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