Juvenile delinquents: In every city, a house of hope
MANILA - President Aquino has signed amendments to the juvenile justice law last week.
Section 49 of Republic Act 10630 amends the provision of Republic Act 9344 on the establishment of youth detention homes.
While youth detention homes were previously only built in select local government units, the law now requires each province and highly urbanized city (the LGUS) to be responsible for building, funding and operating a "bahay pag-asa" within their jurisdiction following the standards that will be set by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and adopted by the Juvenile Justice Welfare Council (JJWC).
The Bahay Pag-asa is a 24-hour child caring institution that will provide short term residential care for children in conflict with the law who are above 15, but less than 18 years of age, who are awaiting court disposition of their cases or transfer to other agencies or jurisdiction.
Part of the features of a Bahay Pag-asa is an intensive juvenile intervention and support center, which youth detention homes previously did not have.
The center shall be managed by a team composed of a social worker, mental health professional, medical doctor, education/guidance counselor and barangay council for the protection of children.
The team will work on the individualized intervention plan with the child and the child's family.
The amended law exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability. However it also says that while a child above 15 years of age but below 18 shall be exempt from criminal liability, they will be subjected to an intervention program.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Aquino could not do a line item veto of this provision , noting that the Department of Social Welfare and Development prefers more intervention than a lower age of criminal responsibility.
The amended law also expands the coverage of the JJWC and creates a regional JJWC .
Led by a social welfare undersecretary, the JJWC shall have as members representatives from the Department of Justice, Council for the Welfare of Children, Department of Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Public Attorney's Office, Bureau of Corrections, Parole and Probation Administration, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Commission on Human Rights, Tesda, National Youth Commission and other institutions focused on juvenile justice and intervention programs.
The law also mandates children in conflict with the law from ages 12 to 15 have to be put under the Bahay Pag-asa if the child commits serious offenses like parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with homicide, arson, rape or kidnapping.