TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte, June 19 (PIA)—  Aside from hauling about P14 million worth of goods and services for more than 3,000 indigenous peoples (IPs) in Talaingod,  Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman brought a message of protection for children from exploitation.

In her speech held last June 19, Soliman assured residents of Talaingod of continued social welfare services and assistance for Talaingod which had been in the list of priority areas of DSWD since 2004.

However, she asked parents to guard against people and groups found using their children during protest rallies to press their respective concerns.

Last June 19, Soliman joined Undersecretary Manny Bautista, executive director of Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace; Usec Gettie Sandoval and Assistant Secretary Apple Oreta of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); Assec Jean Ubial of the Department of Health during the ARENA Serbisyo Caravan conducted at JBL, Barangay Sto. Nino in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

A far-flung town of Davao del NOrte, Talaingod is home to Ata-Manobos who make up 72 percent of almost 20,000 population.

Stressing the importance of child education, Soliman pointed out that children should be in school and should not be on the streets joining protest rallies.

She bared reports that IP children from Talaingod and nearby towns were taken during a protest rally waged against the Department of Education (DepEd). She however failed to specify the DepEd office against which protesters with IP participants were raising complaint against.

Ayaw dalha  ang mga bata sa rally.   (Don’t bring the children to the rally.),” she said. “Ayaw sugot nga magamit sila sa ubang gropo; nga gamiton sa mga dili maayong tawo. Ayaw jud magpagamit sa mga dili maayo nga tumong, sa dili maayo nga himo,  sa  dili maayo nga kalihukan. Kay ngano man atong gi compromeso ang kaugmaon sa atong mga kabataan?  (Don’t allow any group to use the children, neither allow them to be used by people of ill-intent.  Don’t allow yourselves to be exploited for ill-intension and for activities of no good. Why do we have to compromise the welfare of the children?)           

In a separate interview with the media, Soliman appealed to non-government organizations and faith-based organizations working   behind the protest rally against DepEd to spare the children, who she said, should be in school.

“Ang akin pong pakiusap  sa mga NGOs may mga faith-based organizations,  huwag po nating gamitin ang mga  bata. Mag protesta po kayo walang problema. Karapatan po ninyo yan…  huwag po ninyong Isama ang mga bata. (My appeal to NGOs of faith-based organizations, don’t use the children. You can stage protest. There’s no problem with that; that is your right but don’t bring the children.),” she said.

Soliman bared plans to send letters of appeal to the identified NGOs that had tagged along children to protest rallies, and that she planned to ask the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to look into the situation of children at the protest rally lines.

Meanwhile,  Soliman also revealed during the ARENA Serbisyo Caravan this morning that DSWD will be constructing dormitories near public schools for IP children to stay, away from their homes.

She also said that DSWD will be working in tandem with DepEd to funnel more services and assistance to IP children of Talaingod. 

Among the actual assistance and  services delivered/ turned over by DSWD during the Serbisyo Caravan were cheques  for livelihood trainings, supplementary feeding, on-site social pension pay-out, on-site  4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) pay-out, family food packs, wheel chairs/assistive devices, educational supplies, and KALAHI- CIDSS Pamana projects . (PIA 11)