SC, SaferKidsPH Renew Commitment to Protect Children

July 16, 2021

The Supreme Court and the SaferKidsPH Consortium today renewed their commitment to work together to protect the rights and welfare of children.

During the virtual courtesy call on Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo by the SaferkidsPH Consortium, the Chief Justice underscored that while technology has improved the lives of the general public, its abusive use exploits and victimizes children, who are the marginalized and vulnerable but valuable sector of our society. He lamented that recent literature on the subject reveal that “there is a heightened online abuse and exploitation of children amidst the COVID- 19 pandemic.”

“The Philippine Judiciary is committed in doing its part in ensuring access to justice for those who are victims of deplorable and vicious activities,” Chief Justice Gesmundo assured the SaferKidsPH Consortium.

He stressed that the meeting with SaferKidsPH was significant because of the timeliness of the latter’s projects, emphasizing the importance of SaferKidsPH’s role in guarding children’s rights.

Chief Justice also shared that in line with the Judiciary’s commitment to uphold and protect the interest and welfare of children,

the Court En Banc has approved in its resolution in A.M. 21-06-22-SC the recommendations of Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe who is the Chairperson of the SC Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns (CFCJC). The resolution approved the 1) drafting of a comprehensive Benchbook for the disposition of family cases; 2) participation of appellate court Justices, Supreme Court officials, trial court judges who are members of the CFCJC technical working group, and court personnel in the project; and 3) coordination by the Program Management Office with SaferKidsPH Consortium for possible support in the said project.

SaferKidsPH, an initiative of the Australian government, is a six- year programme from 2019 to 2025, aimed at reducing the prevalence of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines through enhancing the child protection system. It is delivered through the consortium of Save the Children Philippines, The Asia Foundation (TAF), and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Among those who paid the Chief Justice an online courtesy visit were Atty. Alberto T. Muyot of Save the Children Philippines; Mr. Thanh Le of the Australian Embassy; Ms. Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov and Mr. Behzad Noubary of UNICEF Philippines; and Mr. Ethan Geary of TAF, among others.

Joining the Chief Justice virtually were Senior Justice Perlas- Bernabe, Justices Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Rodil V. Zalameda, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Mario V. Lopez, Jhosep Y. Lopez, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, SC Spokesperson and Public Information Office Chief Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka. Also in attendance were Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) Chancellor Arturo D. Brion, Court of Appeals Justices, and SC officials. Judicial Reform Program Administrator Atty. Laura C.H. Del Rosario was at the Division Hearing Room with the Chief Justice during the virtual courtesy call.

SaferKidsPH expressed its gratitude to Chief Justice Gesmundo for the Court’s efforts in protecting children’s rights, as it committed to continue its partnership with the Supreme Court by continuously supporting the Judiciary in its reforms pertinent to children’s right. Chief Justice Gesmundo also thanked SaferKidsPH for its support. The Chief Justice noted that the UNICEF, thru TAF, provided equipment and technical support to selected trial courts to enable the latter to conduct live-link testimony of children witnesses. TAF has also supported the PhilJA on the conduct of its various programs, including the development of modules on competency enhancement training on child protection, among others. (Courtesy of the SC Public Information Office)