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Sorsogon GAD council proposes a Halfway House for CICL and children at risk

By: Irma A. Guhit

Sorsogon City, Mar 9 (PIA) – The Sorsogon Provincial Gender and Advocacy Council (PGAD) highlighted March 8 Women’s Day celebration with a forum held here at the provincial training hall.

Provincial Prosecutor Regina Coeli Gabito explained the salient features of RA 9344 otherwise known as the Juvenile and Justice Welfare Act (JJWA).

Approved on April 28 of 2006, RA 9344 zeroes in to the right of the child on its restorative justice aspect which according to Gabito the child or minor who have committed offense or crimes are no longer referred to as juvenile delinquents but Children in Conflict of the Law (CICL) and should be provided a comprehensive juvenile intervention program.

Under RA 9344 the provisions of the law are more on the reparation of the offender. They will be given more reconciliatory assistance for reintegration to society more on counseling provided by social workers from the provincial or municipal Department of Social Welfare and Development Office (P/CSWDO).

Under its provisions a child is below 18 and is considered a minor. There are two types of these children. The child at risk meaning the child is incapable of taking care of himself which sometimes requires the expert opinion of a psychiatrist. The other is the Child in Conflict of the Law, those who have committed crimes or offense.

According to Gabito children at risk are those who are vulnerable and at risk of committing a criminal offense. These are the abandoned children and who also tend to abuse others.

These maybe are also sexually or economically abused, some are from dysfunctional families or broken homes while others are without parents, out of school or children left to fend for their own.

The children in conflict of the law are alleged to be those who are accused of or adjudged as having committed a crime.

The report of the Sorsogon Police Provincial Office (SPPO) here and the City Police Station Office (SPO) showed a high incidence of CICLs. In 2009, Sorsogon city alone recorded 15 cases of CICLs committed by 9-17 years of old while provincial records showed 23 cases involving CICLs.

The provincial records of CICLs in 2010 bear 24 cases distributed as 6 for Sorsogon City, Irosin -6, Pto. Diaz 3, Bulan 1, Castilla 5 Pilar 2.

In 2010 Sorsogon city has 6 cases of crimes committed by minors and in the province was 23. Jan- February 2011 registered 5 cases. According to most of the DSWDO workers a lot here were not reported since this has been arranged in the barangays lupon.

An analysis of the city and provincial situation of the problem several social workers believe that while they are doing their job and even the PNP, the need to have a halfway house were these children can be repatriated and given the right counseling is one of the collegial effort to be pushed by the PGAD so that these children can be given the chance to be mainstreamed again without stigma.

“It is very vital for us working in the reparation and reconciliation of these CICLs to provide them a safe haven where again they can be humanly treated” Gabito said.

“It is very difficult for us social workers when a child offender who has committed ten times of offense cannot be admitted to the Center for Boys here in Pangpang, here without court order”, Rose Abay, coordinator of the City Balay Bukas Palad said.

A collegial decision was reached in the forum. First, the additional hiring of social workers who should tend to these concerns only created through a plantilla position and second, the hiring of a provincial psychologist and psychiatrist who can assist in court cases.

The overriding decision of the PGAD is really to build a halfway home where these children can be well given all the interventions and the assistance to reintegrated again in society and be able to live a a natural life in their communities. (PIA Sorsogon/mal)

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