APRIL 20, 2013

NR # 3079B

Establishment of a National Center for Missing Children pushed
Alarmed by the recent spate of disappearance of children in various parts of the country, a lawmaker is strongly pushing for the creation of a National Center for Missing Children (NCMC), which seeks to boost efforts to reunite missing children with their families. The proposal contained in House Bill 5042 also known as the National Center for Missing Children Act, is in response to the need for a strategic procedure to facilitate prompt recovery of missing minors. The establishment of the Center shall provide information and coordination with the public and private initiatives towards reuniting missing children with their families. Missing children telephone hotlines will be disseminated to local government units, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, school districts, and the general public by the Center to receive information regarding missing children, which include pictures, bulletins, police reports biographical references, and other relevant data that can help efforts to locate missing children. Rep. Anthony Del Rosario (1st District, Davao Del Norte), the bill’s author, said children are one of the most valuable assets of the nation and the future’s best implements in nation building. “Children are our most vulnerable human resource, always susceptible to danger especially when alone and outside their home,” Del Rosario said. According to Del Rosario, “in these times when syndicates flourish in the organ transplant trade, parents have become panic-stricken and it pains me to hear accounts of parents about their missing or abducted children.” “There are still missing children out there that need to be found and perhaps rescued,” Del Rosario said. Citing NCRPO’s report that 36 out of 38 cases of missing children in 2012 have been resolved, Del Rosario, however, is still worried about others who are still exposed to danger. “While some missing children may have been returned to their families, a larger number were not but instead exposed to danger, exploited, or worst, killed and can no longer be located,” Del Rosario said.

The establishment of the NCMC shall be under the supervision of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The NCMC shall maintain an updated computerized link nationwide about missing children through established reporting systems or clearinghouses. It shall disseminate information relating to innovative and model programs, services, and legislations that will benefit missing and exploited children. The NCMC shall conduct national incidence studies annually to determine the actual number of children reported missing, the number of children who are victims of abduction, and number of children who are recovered each year. Furthermore, the Center is required to seek technical and logistical assistance through public and private grants which shall be used to educate parents, children, and local communities in ways to prevent the abduction and sexual exploitation of children, provide information to assist in the location and recovery of missing children, aid communities in the collection of materials which would be useful in the identification of missing children, increase knowledge of and develop effective treatment pertaining to the psychological consequences to the family of the missing child, and collect detailed data on the actual investigative practices utilized by law enforcement agencies in missing children’s cases. The measure requires the Center to analyze, compile, publish and disseminate an annual summary of recently completed researches and demonstration projects relating to missing children with emphasis on effective models of national and local coordination and cooperation in locating missing children; effective educational methods designed to promote community awareness of the problem to prevent abduction or sexual exploitation of children; and effective programs which provide counseling and treatment to families of missing children or to children who had been victims of abduction or sexual exploitation. The power and functions of the NCMC shall be exercised by the Executive Council composed of the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as Chairman, the department secretaries of Justice, Education (DepEd), and Interior and Local Government (DILG), Chief of Philippine National Police (PNP), Chairperson of the Commission Human Rights (CHR), Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Executive Director of the National Center for Missing Children (NCMC), Executive Director of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC); and two representatives from non-government organizations (NGO’s), one to be designated by the Secretary of Justice and the other to be designated by the Secretary of DSWD, as members. Upon the approval of the Council, an Executive Director shall head the NCMC to determine its organizational structure and staffing pattern. (30) jsc

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