DSWD to build more ‘houses of hope’ for youth in 2016
MANILA, Philippines - An attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has allotted P40 million ($847,700)* to establish more youth sanctuaries across the country in 2016.
The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council, established by Section 8 of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, oversees the implementation of the law regarding children in conflict with the law (CICL), and is under the jurisdiction of the DSWD.
Part of the agency’s 2016 budget will be used to establish more Bahay Pag-asa (House of Hope), 24-hour child-caring institutions and intensive juvenile intervention and support centers, managed by local government units (LGUs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
A Bahay Pag-asa provides short-term residential care, and caters to children in conflict with the law (CICL), who are:
- above 12 to 15 years of age, who committed a serious crime, with a commitment order issued by the court;
- above 12 to 15 years of age, who are repeat offenders, and previously subjected to a community-based intervention;
- above 15 to below 18 years of age, and awaiting court disposition; and
- above 12 to below 18 years of age, who are considered to be neglected, abandoned, or abused
At least 8 LGUs nationwide will benefit from this initative, according to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman. The allocated budget will be coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for implementation.
Section 49 of RA 9344, as amended by Republic Act 10630, requires every province and highly-urbanized city to establish a Bahay Pag-asa within their respective jurisdictions.
The facility will be managed by a multi-disciplinary team composed of a social worker, a psychologist or mental health professional, a medical doctor, an educational guidance counsellor, and a member of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC). (READ: Does your local government protect children?)
“The operation of Bahay Pag-Asa will strengthen implementation of intervention programs for CICL, especially their rehabilitation. We want to help these children become productive citizens and prevent them from committing offenses again,” Soliman said.
She also emphasized that children 15 years old and below who commit offenses do not go scot-free.
“It is clarified and emphasized in the law, children below the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) who commit offenses, though exempt from criminal liabilities, are not free from civil liability," she said.
A set of criteria will be used for the establishment of Bahay Pag-Asa in select priority LGUs throughout the country. To date, there are 36 Bahay Pag-Asa nationwide. - with a report from Lou Gepuela/Rappler.com
*$1 = P47.19