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CWC pushes for institutionalization of child abuse helpline

The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) said Wednesday it has drafted a policy seeking for the institutionalization of its Makabata Helpline 1383 to reach out to more children across the country who are suffering from bullying, violence, or mental health issues.

In an ambush interview, CWC executive director Undersecretary Angelo Tapales said that the CWC, along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), has drafted an executive order which is now being routed in other concerned national government agencies and is set to be presented to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos for signature.

“Of course, praying na mapirmahan ng ating Pangulo, para hindi na natin need susugain isa isa ang mga LGU at mga national government agencies para makipag-MOU kami kasi may presidential imprimatur na na kikilalanin ang Makabata Helpline na isa kami sa talagang focal na helpline or reporting mechanism,” he said in an ambush interview. 

(Of course, we are praying that our President will sign it, so that we no longer need to go to each LGUs and national government agencies to sign a MOU because there is already a presidential imprimatur that will recognize the Makabata Helpline that we are one of the focal helplines or reporting mechanisms.)

“Ang Makabata Helpline, hindi lang pang-trafficking, pang-rape, pang-bullying, or pang-cybercrime. Lahat ng concern ng bata mula sa bullying, violence against children, rape, mental health concerns… Kesa mag-isip ang tao kung saan tatawag, apat na numero lang ang kailangan tandaan-–1383,” he added.

(The Makabata Helpline will help address all concerns of children from cases of bullying,  violence against children, rape, and mental health concerns. Instead of them thinking where they should call, they could just remember 1383.)

Tapales said he hopes that the Marcos would be able to sign the EO within the year, so that they could help more children with their concerns. He said the EO would add more manpower in their project, and would make their hotline 24/7.

He admitted that there are only 10 contract of service employees currently working for the helpline. The helpline is also only functioning within the normal working hours that typically start at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m.

This helpline, which integrated the 1383 number in July 2023, aims to provide quick response, monitoring, and feedback from reports of abuses, exploitation, neglect, discrimination, and similar incidents through calls, electronic mail, and social media platforms.

In 2023, CWC’s data showed that its helpline received a total of 290 reports. Majority of these were inquiries regarding violations of various child rights such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse.

Citing data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children Protection Center, Tapales also noted there were over 17,000 cases of violence against children in 2023. The top three cases were child abuse, rape, and acts of lasciviousness.

The CWC earlier said it is also on the lookout for the presence of child abuse and exploitation materials made through artificial intelligence (AI) tools and image editing software in the country. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News