Press Release
September 8, 2007

Loren proposes recovery system for missing kids

Every year, hundreds of children are kidnapped or taken away from their parents or guardians. In most cases, law enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to mount extensive search efforts. Thus, many of these children remain missing for years, exposed to grave danger, or are never reunited with their families.

In view of this harsh reality, Sen. Loren Legarda has proposed to install a National Strategic Missing Children Recovery Program, primarily aimed at improving methods of locating disappeared children through community effort.

One of the key strategies of the proposed program is the opening of a national hotline through which individuals can furnish leads and other relevant information as well as inquire about procedures for reuniting a child and his or her family.

Another strategy is the creation of a national resource center and information-clearing house that would assist agencies, non-government organizations and individuals in finding and recovering missing children.

Senate Bill 1385 proposes to lodge the program with the Department of Social Welfare and Development's Council for the Welfare of Children, via the creation of a new sectoral panel on missing children. The panel would be the primary unit to assist law enforcers in solving kidnapping cases.

Specifically, the program, to be backed by a start-up budget of P5 million, would be designed to enable the sectoral panel to accomplish the following activities:

Develop models of national and local coordination and cooperation in searching out missing children;

Provide technical assistance to concerned agencies and private organizations involved in search operations;

Conduct national studies on kidnapping cases;

Compile, analyze, publish recent research on the problem;

Promote greater community awareness of the problem;

Disseminate information, particularly to parents, on how to prevent kidnapping and sexual exploitation of children; and

Extend counseling and treatment to recovered children and their families.

"Children separated from their families or guardians is definitely cause for alarm. Away from their protectors, missing children are totally vulnerable to abuse and exploitation," Legarda said. The bill is in fulfillment of the State's constitutional mandate to safeguard the welfare of children, the senator said.

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