Where are the child protection committees in schools?

“Where are the Child Protection Committees (CPCs) in schools that are supposed to safeguard learners against potential abuses?”

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel raised this question Sunday after child abuse allegations at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) prompted the Department of Education (DepEd) to call in the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for help.

“We recall that a decade ago, then Education Secretary Jesli Lapus ordered the creation of a CPC in every school precisely to assure our children safe spaces for learning,” Pimentel said.

Under Department Order 42 issued by Lapus on May 14, 2012, the DepEd adopted its Policy and Guidelines on Protecting Children in School from Abuse, Violence, Exploitation, Discrimination, Bullying and Other Forms of Abuse.

“Every school was mandated to activate a CPC to deal with possible child abuse cases involving victims under 18 years old,” Pimentel said.

The six-member CPC is composed of the school head as chairperson; guidance counselor/teacher as vice chairperson; a representative of teachers designated by the faculty club; a representative of parents selected by the Parents-Teachers Association; a representative of students named by the Supreme Student Council; and a community representative assigned by the barangay head, preferably a member of the barangay council for the protection of children.

“If the victim is 18 years old or above, and the case involves possible sexual offenses, then every school is also supposed to have a separate Committee on Decorum and Investigation (COD) under the Sexual Harassment Act of 1995,” Pimentel pointed out.

“The mere visibility of both the CPC and COD in every school is meant to help deter abuses and encourage victims to come forward,” Pimentel said.

In a previous report, PHSA students and graduates complained to VICE World News “of an entrenched culture of sexual, physical and emotional abuse impacting generations of children.”

Besides the NBI investigation, the Senate and the House are also set to launch their own inquiries into the VICE World News report.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros and three members of the Makabayan bloc in the House earlier filed the resolutions enabling the separate inquiries.