Safeguarding the welfare of our children

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“We have seen how the culture of neglect and incompetence spread by the previous administration worked against our dreams and aspirations for our children and our nation.

To say that our children are a precious part of society is a no-brainer. The future of our nation lies in the hands of our youth, which makes it our moral imperative to ensure that they are provided with guidance and taught values that will make them productive and responsible citizens of our country.

It is for this noble cause that on 16 October 1992, then President Fidel V. Ramos declared the month of October as “National Children’s Month.” While the declaration recognizes our children as “the most valuable asset of the nation,” it also echoes our constitutional responsibility to “protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being.”

It is the government’s firm commitment to this mission that we continue to intensify our fight against the menace of illegal drugs.

The segment of our population most affected by illegal drugs is the youth. They corrupt the minds of our children, leading to the deterioration of their health, school performance and social relationships. As a result, they become not just unproductive, but destructive members of society. And without sound minds and bodies, citizens cannot fulfill their duties to their country.

We have valid reasons to be alarmed and act fast and aggressively. According to 2016 statistics from the Dangerous Drugs Board, as many as 3.7 million Filipinos are dealing with drug addiction, 65 percent of which are young people.

A study published in the International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Invention in 2017 cites “peer influence, lack of attention and love from parents, serious conflict or misunderstanding in the family and very weak foundation on spiritual and moral values” as the main causes of drug abuse among Filipino college students.

These hard facts suggest the sheer magnitude of the drug problem and it does not help when the opposition tries to minimize it. Not only do they trivialize our struggles against the proliferation of illegal drugs, they are also trivializing the experience of Filipino families and communities suffering from drug affectation.

President Rodrigo Duterte knows that a forceful intervention is needed to address the problem, which is why in 2016, he launched the drug war as the “chemotherapy” for the cancer that is illegal drugs. And as the President passionately avowed during his State of the Nation Address this year, the war will continue and it will be unrelenting.

But despite Tatay Digong’s determination to stave off the problem from the country, the truth of the matter is he cannot do it alone. He needs allies in the government to support his noble cause and bring lasting, positive change to society.

As his assistant for 20 years, I am more than willing to undertake this task. I vow to protect our children, the future of this nation, at all costs.

“He needs allies in the government to support his noble cause and bring lasting, positive change to society.

I will ensure that our children are afforded access to healthcare services by institutionalizing Malasakit Centers all over the country. These offices are one-stop shops that aggregate all medical assistance provided by government agencies to indigent patients, especially our senior citizens and persons with disability. I will also push for the passage of a Universal Health Care law that will give all Filipinos access to affordable healthcare.

To safeguard our children from the threats of crime and delinquency, I will advocate for the amendment of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, authored by yellow cultist Sen. Francis Pangilinan, which serves as a loophole for criminals to take advantage of our children as instruments for their illegal activities.

The inept law, which Pangilinan copied from the United States, exempts minors below 15 years old from all criminal liability regardless of the gravity of their offense. It also missed a vital provision of the American juvenile law, which warrants young lawbreakers to undergo rehabilitation or go to a correctional facility.

We have seen how the culture of neglect and incompetence spread by the previous administration worked against our dreams and aspirations for our children and our nation. Enough is enough. Next year, we will have the power to change the course of our history by exercising our right to vote. May we use this power to elect those people who are not just capable in leading the country, but also have the courage and compassion to secure our children’s bright future.

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Blast from the past: Today is the death anniversary of architect and national artist Jose Maria Zaragoza who died on 26 November 1994.

Zaragoza was a leading architect during the post-war reconstruction of Manila. Among his works and contributions are now famous landmarks such as the Meralco Building in Ortigas, the Commercial Bank and Trust Company Building in Escolta and the National Library on T. M. Kalaw, Manila. But his most enduring works remain to be in religious structures, the most famous of which is the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City, which is now a national cultural treasure.

He also became the Ambassador of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the Philippines and Gentiluomo di Sua Santita (Member of the Papal Household) by Pope John Paul II. He became National Artist for Architecture in 2014.

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