The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will direct local government units (LGUs), particularly those in the provinces and highly-urbanized cities, to establish child-caring reform centers or “Bahay Pag-asa” for children in conflict with the law (CICL).
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año made the commitment during a Senate hearing on bills lowering the age of criminal responsibility yesterday.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate justice committee, asked if the local government can “lead the charge” in building these halfway homes to prevent juvenile delinquency.
While noting that it is possible to direct LGUs to construct their own Bahay Pag-asa centers, the DILG chief stressed that standards must be established and concerned government agencies must also be involved.
“We will require the LGUs, starting with the provincial government and the highly-urbanized cities (to build these facilities),” Año said.
He said that while the funding for these facilities can be sourced from the local government support fund, additional budget would be needed to meet the law requirement for the operation of at least 114 Bahay Pag-asa centers -- one for each province and highly-urbanized city.
The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC) earlier revealed that there are only 58 operational Bahay Pag-asa centers in the country.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said funding for the construction of these youth care facilities can be allotted in the 2019 national budget and discussed during the congressional bicameral conference.
JJWC executive director Tricia Oco, however, noted that the present law only allows the allocation of PHP5 million for every Bahay Pag-asa center.
According to the JJWC, these centers are 24-hour caring institutions for children with pending cases in court or those children committed by court who are above 12 years old but below 15 years old who committed serious crimes, as enumerated in Republic Act No. 10630 or are repeat offenders.
Part of the features of a Bahay Pag-asa is an intensive juvenile intervention and support center, which will cater to CICLs.*PNA
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