There is a universal call to protect the welfare of our children and to promote their best interest at all times. Toward this end, our Constitution has enshrined the right of the children to assistance, proper care, nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development.

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Several enabling laws were passed in order to give the needed assistance, care, and protection to the children. However, these laws will remain mere powerless words if not properly observed and implemented. That's why it's the duty and responsibility of every parent, guardian, teacher, and citizen of the community to be vanguards of children’s welfare and to ensure an effective implementation of the laws.

Below is a short list of essential laws useful in protecting the children.

Health and Social Welfare Laws

1. Presidential Decree No. 603 (The Child and Youth Welfare Code)

This law proclaims the rights of the child. It also covers the following aspects essential for the promotion and protection of the best welfare of the child: home, church, community, state, adoption, foster care, education, work. It likewise contains provisions on the rights, duties, and liabilities of the parents; the special children; and dependent and abandoned children.

2. Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act)

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This law was enacted with the purpose to protect the child from all forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. The following have been declared as criminal offenses: child prostitution and sexual abuse, child trafficking, and other acts of abuse such as neglect, cruelty, and exploitation. There are special provisions as well on the protection of children from indigenous cultural communities as well as children in situations of armed conflict.

3. Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act)

This law chiefly penalizes the act of recruiting, transporting, harboring, or receiving persons-- including children--with or without their consent or knowledge. The act is committed with the use of threat, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, abuse of power or of position, for the purpose of prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labor, or the removal or sale of organs. A higher penalty of life imprisonment is imposed if the trafficked person is a child.

4. Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act)

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Physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and economic abuses committed against children are penalized under this act. This law allows the child to obtain immediate protection from acts of violence through a barangay protection order and/or temporary and permanent protection order.

5. Republic Act No. 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act)

The law punishes the persons and/or companies who hire, use, and/or induce a child to perform in the creation of any form of pornography as well as those involved in the production, creation, sale, distribution, and/or broadcast of child pornography. It likewise punishes the parents who knowingly permit or allow their child to participate in pornography.

Click "next" to see the rest of the health and social welfare laws.

(Illustration by Sabrina Lajara)

6. Republic Act No. 9442 (Magna Carta for Disabled Persons)

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This law covers children with disabilities also. It grants special benefits such as discounts from hotels, restaurants, cinemas, medicines, medical and dental services, fares, and groceries, among others. The law also provides that educational assistance shall be given to qualified persons with disability. In addition, it punishes public ridicule and slander committed against disabled persons.

7. Republic Act No. 8552 and Republic Act No. 8043 (Domestic Adoption Act and Inter-Country Adoption Act)

Republic Act No. 8552 governs the adoption of a Filipino child by a Filipino citizen or by qualified aliens, including former Filipino citizens who seek to adopt a relative within the 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity. Republic Act No. 8043 covers adoption of “legally free” Filipino children by a foreigner not qualified under any other Philippine law or by a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad.

8. Republic Act No. 7624 (An Act Integrating Drug Prevention and Control in School) Curricula

This provides for the integration of the subject on drug abuse, drug addiction, and drug dependency into the curriculum of all intermediate and secondary schools.

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9. Department Order No. 40, Series of 2012 (DEPED Child Protection Policy)

This Department Order issued by the Department of Education seeks to protect children from abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying, and other forms of abuse in the school setting.

10. Republic Act No. 8049 (The Anti-Hazing Law)

This law punishes the offenders when a participant in hazing suffers physical injuries and/or dies as a result of the initiation rites.

11. Act No. 3815 (The Revised Penal Code)

The Revised Penal Code punishes the following crimes committed against children: kidnapping and illegal detention, failure to return a minor, inducing a minor to abandon his home, slavery, exploitation of a minor, abandoning a minor, acts of lasciviousness, seduction, corruption of minors, white slave trade, and abduction. Republic Act No. 8353 amplified the crime of rape by providing that mandatory death penalty shall be imposed if the victim is under 18 years old and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim; and when the victim is below 7 years old.

Click "next" to check out work-related and family laws involving children!

(Illustration by Sabrina Lajara)

Work-Related Laws

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1. Republic Act No. 9231 (An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child)

This law amended certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7610, particularly the following: the employment of children, working hours of children, income of the working child, education of the working child, forms of child labor, penalties for the violators, and persons authorized to file a complaint on cases of unlawful acts committed against children.

2. Republic Act No. 7323 (An Act Providing for Summer and Christmas Employment for Poor Students)

This law allows certain employers to employ poor but deserving students, starting the age of 15 years, during summer and Christmas vacations. 60 percent of their salary shall be paid in cash and 40 percent shall be in the form of vouchers to be paid for tuition fees and books.

Family Laws

1. Executive Order No. 209, as amended (Family Code of the Philippines)

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This Code contains the laws on family, paternity and filiation, legitimate children, illegitimate children, legitimated children, support, parental authority, and emancipation.

2. Republic Act No. 386, as amended (Civil Code of the Philippines)

The Civil Code provides for the successional rights of children. The essential rights are the following:

1. The children are compulsory heirs of their parents. This means that they cannot be denied of their legal right to receive their rightful shares in the hereditary estate of the parents, unless disinherited. (Article 887, 904, and 915)

2. In the event that parents have omitted their children in their will, the designation of the heir other than the wife and children shall be nullified. (Article 854)

(Illustration by Sabrina Lajara)

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