ChildSafe in the Philippines
A Partnership for Protection
The Government of the Philippines and its Department of Tourism (DoT) acknowledge that although good progress has been made in recent years there are still some very serious child protection issues to address in the country, particularly in relation to the travel and tourism (T&T) industry.
Estimates have put the number of child victims of sexual exploitation in the country at 100,000, many of whom are trafficked internally from rural areas to major urban areas. They often end up in high risk and abusive situations which can include prostitution and online sexual exploitation and are particularly open to exploitation by sex tourists.
ChildSafe first initiated collaboration with the DoT in 2014, alongside our developing partnership with local non-government organization, Bahay Tuluyan. Together, ChildSafe, the DoT and Bahay Tuluyan will provide wide-reaching child protection training and advocacy within the Philippines.
Established in 1987, Bahay Tuluyan delivers much-needed social projects in the communities and on the streets of Manila, Laguna and Quezon. These programs provide a range of services aimed at preventing and responding to the abuse and exploitation of children.
The Deputy Director of Bahay Tuluyan, Catherine Scerri said – “we are really excited about the renewed partnership with ChildSafe and the potential benefits this will bring to Filipino children. We look forward to making tourism in the Philippines safe for all children.”
On 13th August of this year, ChildSafe and representatives from the DoT came together with representatives from other government and non-government agencies to sign a covenant to work together to ensure children are protected within T&T practices.
In practical terms, this agreement means local civil society organizations and government departments, initially in Manila and Cebu, will be trained to implement ChildSafe campaigns and to deliver training within their organizations and to their constituents/beneficiaries.
In partnership with the DoT, ChildSafe will be working with T&T businesses to conduct awareness training of the risks posed to children; promote ChildSafe’s key child protection campaign – the 7 Tips for Travellers – and identify local response systems to report incidents of child abuse and exploitation.
T&T businesses interested in becoming official ChildSafe supporters and promoting the 7 Tips for Travellers campaign to their customers, as well as train their staff as ChildSafe Agents, will be identified and supported to do this. In addition, other members of society, well-placed to protect children in their day to day activities will also be identified to be trained and certified as ChildSafe Agents.
“As the Department of Tourism strengthens its’ advocacy in the Philippines to protect children and women from various forms of abuses and sexual exploitation, we are ever thankful for our partnership with Friends-International and the ChildSafe Movement as they continue to share their valuable expertise in training our tourism frontliners especially on ChildSafe’s 7 Tips for Travellers. In addition, we will further expand our program through a recognition system of child safe establishments in the Philippines”, said Assistant Secretary Maria Rica C. Bueno.
These actions will lead to several very important outcomes. There will be increased awareness among T&T businesses and their customers, achieved through trainings and distribution of campaign materials targeted to specific locations with high tourist populations. This will enhance the knowledge of the various risks children face and how to identify possible cases of abuse and exploitation. Importantly there will also be an awareness of appropriate responses to take to prevent future cases of abuse and exploitation, alongside an increased likelihood that instances of abuse are actually reported to the relevant authorities.
ChildSafe is delighted that our early relationships have now solidified into this exciting multi-agency initiative which will address a multiplicity of child protection issues related to the T&T industry in the Philippines and we look forward to continuing our work together with all partners to build safer environments in which children can thrive free from harm.