The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its attached agency, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC),  reiterated its call for the intensified implementation of restorative justice for children in conflict with the law instead of imposing actions of punitive justice or putting them in jail.

Under JJWA, restorative justice involves the comprehensive management of CICL from prevention, to rehabilitation and reintegration through the development of a Comprehensive Juvenile Intervention Program at the national and local levels.

A Comprehensive National Juvenile Intervention Framework was also crafted to help local government units in developing their programs for the children in their locality.

“We push for restorative justice for CICLs because putting them in jail together with hardened criminals threatens their safety and well-being. We have received reports that minors in jails experience sexual and physical abuse,” Atty. Tricia Clare Oco, JJWC Executive Director stated.

Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Albert Muyot explained that CICLs do not go “scot-free”, and that they in fact are made to participate in intervention programs and housed in Bahay Pag-Asa centers managed by the local government units.

“Merong Alternative Learning System na programa ang DepEd para sa mga batang nagkasala at nai-refer na sa mga centers ng DSWD (DepEd has ALS program for CICLs who were referred to DSWD centers),” he said.

Atty. Oco also mentioned the gaps, such as lack of facilities and programs of the LGUs for CICLs, as well as the lack of social workers trained to handle cases which hampers the effective implementation of intervention programs.

DSWD and JJWC re-echoed their call for the full implementation of RA9344 as they led the kick-off activity for the celebration of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Consciousness(JJWC) Week on November 19 in Quezon City.

The JJWC Week is one of the platforms to mainstream awareness and consciousness of the public emphasizing the rights of every Filipino youth including CICL and children at risk.

It is held every 4th week of November in line with the annual National Children’s Month celebration.

Spotlight on issues of youth sector

Highlighting  the kick-off was a flash mob, dubbed “Craze for Hope”, where more than a hundred young boys and girls danced to put the spotlight on the evolving issues about their plight as a sector. A poster making contest immediately followed the flash mob.

This year’s theme, Mapagkalingang hustisya, ugaliin at pagtibayin! emphasizes the responsibilities of all duty bearers and stakeholders in ensuring the protection and promotion of the welfare of Filipino children and youth.

Also during the kick off, an advocacy video titled, “Aral”, featuring the success story of Jerry Adkins, a former CICL, now a teacher was launched. Adkins  narrated his transformation through the help of houseparents and social workers at the Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Youth (RRCY), a DSWD managed residential facility which provides programs for CICLs.

 Crucial role of parents

Meanwhile, DSWD- Protective Services Bureau Director Ma. Alicia S. Bonoan and Region III RJJWC Director Gemma Gabuya underscored the crucial role that parents and the community play in shaping children’s behavior.

“Mahalaga ang papel ng mga magulang sa pagpapalaki ng mga bata kaya’t pinapalakas namin ang aming mga parenting programs (Parents play an important role in raising their children, that is why, we are strengthening the Department’s parenting programs),” Dir. Bonoan said.

“Ang kapaligiran na ginagalawan ng bata ang magiging daan upang mare-integrate sila sa kanilang pamilya at komunidad (The environment the child moves in will pave the way for them to be re-integrated in their families and communities),” added Dir. Gabuya.

For her part, CWC Executive Director Mitzi Cajayon –Uy shared that it is also important to  practice positive disciplining when dealing with children.

JJWC, together with partner NGAs and NGOs has lined-up several activities for the week-long observance of JJWC Week from November 19-25. ###