Dumingag is one of the municipalities in Zamboanga del Sur where access is always a problem.
Barangays in this largely agricultural town are on upland areas, making the delivery of basic services a great difficulty. Malnourished children walked barefoot on kilometers of rough road to reach their schools.
This was the scenario before 1999 when the municipality’s Child-Friendly Movement (CFM) started. The program was created to address the problems in health and nutrition (child and infant mortality), education (child abuse in schools), and women and children’s agenda (child labor, discrimination against women).
The municipal government mobilized all sectors of the community. The municipal government also partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to further strengthen the program.
There is no heightened consciousness on health and sanitation, and on issues related to the rights of women and children. This has resulted in a significant reduction in cases of abuse, maltreatment and exploitation.
The CFM also brought Dumingag a lot of “firsts”: it has police stations with children’s and women’s desks, a Child Welfare Code, a hotline for reporting abuse on women and children, and a reward system for child-friendly barangays.
Dumingas is also becoming popular as the home of the “Kiddy Cops” members of the police force dedicated for the protection of children. The move is aimed at eradicating children’s fear of the police to encourage them to report incidents of abuse in their schools and homes.
The program now covers all 44 barangays in Dumingag. Its success in placing children’s welfare at the center of community development earned Dumingag the national recognition of being the “most child-friendly municipality of the Philippines” in 2000 and 2001.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2003 Galing Pook Awards.