Tuesday, August 9, 2016

PSG protects children's welfare in Camarines Sur
By Connie B. Destura

NAGA CITY, Aug. 8 (PNA) -- PSG as most everyone knows stands for Presidential Security Group or the leading agency tasked with securing the President of the Philippine Republic.

In the mainly agricultural Barangay (village) Pawili in Pili, capital town of Camarines Sur province, however, PSG is a denotation for something else.

PSG means Parents Support Group, an advocacy of development organization Plan International Philippines, that gives children a different sense of “security.”

The humanitarian, child-centered group which has no religious, political or government affiliations, believes such a support mechanism is essential to ensure that the children’s welfare in this side of the province of Camarines Sur are protected.

PSG in Pawili, which was initiated by community members, started with four members in 2013 and has to date grown to 40 active members.

Ensuring that children are properly guided and disciplined without having to resort to “physical contact or degrading punishment” that could cause children to misbehave or become disobedient, is the main advocacy of PSG, a component of Plan’s positive discipline program.

Jayson P. Lozano, project manager of the program, said PSG promotes “positive and non-violent” forms of providing discipline to children.”

He said the support group prohibits “corporal punishment” and “all forms of degrading and humiliating punishment of children in all settings.”

Corporal punishment could take the form of verbal abuse, slapping, kicking, boxing or other physical means to get a child to obey he added.

Lozano said Plan seeks to help build the capacity and commitment of “those responsible” for ensuring that the children’s rights are met.

By “those responsible” he was referring to both the local and national government. He said their work on “capacity-building” in the grassroots level is in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

OFW's spouse

Michelle Bungos, 43, spouse of an Overseas Filipino Worker who hails from Pawili, said she has learned that a positive form of discipline is an effective way to handle her three children.

Bungos, whose husband works as an electrician in Saudi Arabia, said such a style of discipline has helped her rear her three boys, ages 21, 8 and 7.

She said it is a no mean feat considering that she has to be both a mother and father to her children.

The support group, she said, has been helping instill the value of positive discipline among the villagers.

“In one instance when we were conducting a learning session in a remote zone of our barangay, a mother came out of the house and hit her little boy who was playing outside,” she recounted.

Bungos said the PSG in Pawili invited the mother to a two-hour session on the benefits of the positive style of discipline.

Children’s Month

Village councilwoman Erlinda Tengco said that prior to implementation of the “anti-corporal punishment” program of the PSG, the village had noted at least five cases of parents who use physical means to punish their children.

“After a year of the program’s implementation, we could now see the difference. We now have recorded only two cases from the five cases before the program came in,” she said.

She said at the beginning of its program, PSG conducted a house-to-house visit to orient parents on how to discipline their children without having to resort to violence.

Tengco said different monthly activities were organized to support and monitor each PSG member.

“The work involves monthly group activities involving backyard gardening, a feeding program, learning sessions and social interactions,” she said.

Tengco said each year, PSG promotes a so-called “Children’s Month” where members submit entries for a “slogan contest” that promotes child protection while children showcase their talents in a group presentation.

Food security

The PSG also holds food security projects through its “Clean and Green” program where every household is encouraged to have a backyard garden and care for livestock.

“Simula sa kani-kanilang mga bakuran bibigyan sila ng mga libreng binhi at kapag namunga na ay sila naman ang magbibigay ng binhi sa iba pang mga kabarangay na nais ding magtanim.” (In the beginning they get free seeds and when these bear fruit they in turn share their seedings to fellow villagers who also wish to raise vegetable crops), said Tengco.

She said the backyard ventures of PSG members earned merit for Pawili when it received an award during the town’s Agriculture Expo.

Play areas

As part of their counterpart to the positive discipline program of Plan International Philippines, the village officials made plans to put up another daycare center to augment their existing facility.

They said the village has seven zones with each zone provided with a recreational facility where children can play.

The village also has an education program that gets additional support from PSG.

Village councilman Mario Amparado, chairman committee on education, said the village council, which gets support from PSG, earmarks P30,000 yearly cash support for 30 scholars in high school who each receive a P1,000 cash for their educational needs.

He said the program has benefited 390 high school graduates for the past 13 years, which include those years when PSG came to Pawili.

Tengco added that as part of her personal advocacy she sends on her own two college scholars, five high school students and five elementary pupils as part of her contribution to the village’s education work.

Drug-free community

Village leaders also carry out a daily curfew program prohibiting children from roaming the streets from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Village officials said the changes in the community became apparent when PSG was introduced into the fabric of the community’s everyday lives.

Pawili officials have now become proud in declaring their village as a “drug-free area” for minors.”

They said the village received various recognitions, including “champion for two consecutive years at the “Youth Empowerment Summit” in 2014 and 2015.

Officials said their village was also recognized as the “most disciplined government unit” in Pili town.

Lozano said before the PSG program came to Pawili, the village was “behind” compared to Plan’s other target project areas when it came to providing a “children’s program” in the community.

“Now the villagers have become very much motivated and willing to speak about their concerns on raising their children,” he said.

Lozano said the villagers have also become “ready volunteers” to the program and its projects.

He shared the community members have come to realize the value of becoming volunteers for PSG’s projects.

“For who will help the people of Pawili but the people of Pawili themselves,” said Lozano. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD