Rappler sourced photo
MANILA, Philippines – Children in conflict with the law (CICL), who are staying in cramped holding centers, may eventually find new homes.
The Juvenile Justice Welfare Council (JJWC) is set to get more funding to build additional rehabilitation facilities.
The JJWC will get more than P133.18 million of the proposed budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for 2018.
Approved by the Department of Budget and Management, the amount is 55% higher than the P85.55 million budget that the council got in 2017. JJWC has the biggest budget among the attached agencies of the DSWD.
Lawyer Tricia Oco, executive director of the JJWC, said there is an increase in the capital outlay of the agency.
“It’s for the construction of 4 more Bahay ng Pag-Asa. This year, we have to construct more BPAs. That’s one of the big ticket projects for 2018,” Oco told Rappler in a phone interview.
If Congress approves the proposed budget, around P36.18 million will be alloted for these additional holding homes for child offenders.
Congested juvenile centers
Rappler reported earlier the dire conditions of some juvenile centers managed by local government units (LGUs). (READ: Beyond juvenile delinquency: Why children break the law)
Republic Act 10630 or the Juvenile and Justice Welfare Act of 2006 mandates LGUs to build, fund, and operate their own BPAs, subject to the standards set by the DSWD and the JJWC.
Preda Foundation noted in the report that rehabilitation centers operated by some LGUs have jail-like conditions.
Rappler also visited a holding center in Caloocan City, where an employee and a mother of a CICL staying there said that the situation was not conducive to the needs of the children.
DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo earlier said that congestion also happens in BPAs managed by their department, prompting her to ask for additional funding to expand the facilities and manpower there.
Aside from building more homes, the council will also use the budget increase for implementing their new management information system that seeks to build a database of the CICL cases. (READ: Children in conflict with the law: Cracks in Juvenile Justice Act)
“We lack [comprehensive] statistics on CICL. We don’t have an official count of how many they are,” explained Oco.
Through the system, they plan to closely monitor the how the DSWD, the Philippine National Police, and the Department of Justice are handling the cases of child offenders. – Rappler.com