“Today marks a significant day, not only for us in the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), but most importantly for the children, especially those at risk and in conflict with the law. A decade ago, our law makers enacted Republic Act (RA) 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, a landmark child protection law in Asia, and it has been a colorful and meaningful journey.”
This was the message of JJWC Executive Secretary Atty. Tricia Clare A. Oco as the Council celebrated on May 20 the milestones in the implementation of RA 9344 which established a comprehensive juvenile justice system in the Philippines.
Prior to the enactment of the law, data showed that more than 52,000 Filipino children are in detention or under custodial setting. They suffer from all kinds of abuses and some were meted out with capital punishment.
As part of the celebration, the JJWC recognized the invaluable support and contribution of member and coordinating agencies and other stakeholders. Thirteen local government units also received awards for actively implementing the law in their respective jurisdictions.
Atty. Oco related that the implementation of the law is both fulfilling and challenging.
“It has been a decade of ensuring that children’s rights are upheld and their welfare is promoted. At the same time, we also work for the reparation and healing of victims, building of safer communities, and prevention of juvenile delinquency,” Atty. Oco shared.
She acknowledged concerted efforts of all the duty-bearers in the successful implementation of the law.
As a policy-making, coordinating and monitoring body tasked to ensure the implementation of RA 9344, the JJWC has achieved various milestones for the law.
In 2015 alone, the JJWC has developed/updated, issued and disseminated 31 national policies, plans, and programs which include the Department of Education (DepEd) Guidelines and Procedures on the Management of children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL), Philippine National Police (PNP) Manual on Handling and Treatment of CAR and CICL, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Guidelines for the LGUs on the development of Comprehensive Local Juvenile Intervention Program, among others.
Some 34 Bahay Pag-Asa have also been constructed nationwide for the rehabilitation of CICL.
In 2015, the JJWC has assisted 5,934 local government units nationwide in developing their juvenile intervention programs through the newly-created Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committees (RJJWC).
As a result of the monitoring and inspection visits facilitated by the JJWC and the RJJWCs, 69 children were transferred from detention facilities to child institutions or to their parents and guardians in the same year.
Furthermore, RA 9344 has also been nominated in the World Future Policy Awards as one of the policies that aims to protect and strengthen the rights of children.
For 2016 and in the coming years, the JJWC is set to ensure a more efficient, effective and better implementation of the law by continuing the strong coordination with all the duty-bearers and capacitating them to properly perform their roles.
A National Juvenile Justice Information Management System is also being developed to ensure proper recordation and management of all data related to children at risk and children in conflict with the law.
“What keeps us going is the number of lives that we are able to help change and bring hope to,” Atty. Oco emphasized.