Young Pinoy inspires youth, child rights advocates

By Maria Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, Taking the cue from the initiative of a young Filipino boy in the Netherlands, a child rights group in Manila has organized a children’s solidarity walk for justice and peace. Executive Director Ma. Esmeralda dela Paz of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) said the “Walk for Justice, Walk for Peace” will coincide with the biggest walkathon in the Netherlands in which Kyle Baleva is one of its 45,000 participants. “Kasabay iyan ng mangyayari sa the Netherlands na walkathon kung saan si Kyle ay lalakad ng apat na araw,” said Dela Paz. The “International Four-Day Marches in Nijmegen” in the Netherlands is set for July 21 to 24, 2009. Participants to the Netherlands’ walkathon will walk 30, 40 or 50 kilometers daily, for four days. Loui Galicia, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau correspondent reported that upon completion, they will receive a “Vierdaagsekruis,” or a royally-approved medal. Galicia, who first reported Baleva’s preparation for the walkathon, added that every kilometer that the boy walks is equivalent to 20 Euro cents, which he intends to donate to orphaned children victims of political killings and disappearances. “Hindi lang siya lakad. Mag-aadvocate siya ng support para doon sa mga batang anak ng mgabiktima ng extra-judicial killings, mga desaparecidos at iba pang mga victims ng human rights violations dito sa Pilipinas,” Dela Paz said. Baleva aims to collect 1,000 euros for the benefit of “A Hand for an Orphan Program” of the CRC. “Nag isip kami ng isang activity dito sa Maynila na parallel sa kanya para ipakita din ang solidarity at na-package namin siya as solidarity walk,” said Dela Paz. Manila’s Walk for Justice, Walk for Peace will also coincide with the Lakbayan of peasants, workers and other sectors from Southern Tagalog, who will join a protest-mobilization on July 27, the day President Arroyo delivers her 9th State of the Nation Address to the Filipino people. “Kasabay siya ng Lakbayan na mangyayari sa Southern Tagalog na aalis din July 21 o 22 from Calamba, and expected silang makarating sa Makati by 24,” she said. Children under the SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns and other child rights advocates will walk in solidarity with Baleva. “May mga bata from Southern Tagalog na magpapakita ng kanilang support at actually sila din victims din. Mga galing sa urban poor na victims ng demolition na na-relocate sa Calamba at yung iba mga anak din ng mga biktima,” she said. Young advocate Baleva’s parents and Filipinos living and working in the Netherlands fully support the boy who, at a very young age, has taken on a sense of responsibility to highlight the plight of orphaned children of victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and political repression. “Kahanga-hanga talaga kasi sa ganyang age naisip niya at saka yung effort. Pinoy siya at hindi niya iniiwan ang roots niya, at alam niya ang nangyayari sa Pilipinas, at mula doon, nag e-effort siya,” added Dela Paz. In the Philippines, the CRC said that an average of three children are orphaned every week due to killings that are political in nature. In the last five years, CRC added that more than 800 incidents of human rights violations have been recorded in the country, affecting some 215,200 children. “Mula 2001 hanggang 2008, 66 children ang namatay dahil sa state violence,” she said. CRC, according to its website, is focused on children in the rural and urban areas who suffer from physical health problems, emotional disorders and social maladjustments due to traumatic events such as arrest, torture, forced displacement, strafing, bombing, massacre, disappearance and other forms of human rights violations. It offers immediate psycho-social aid to children and families who are affected by natural disasters and accepts referrals for children-victims of other social disasters such as abuse and exploitation on a case-to-case basis.