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DSWD initiates campaign on minor offenders' rights

() - June 30, 2006 - 12:00am
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has initiated a series of advocacy and information campaigns on the privileges of a teenage crime offender, as specified in the newly approved Republic Act 9344.

DSWD social welfare officer Emma Patalinghug during the dialogue on the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 said that nationwide, there are only six detention homes for children in conflict with the law awaiting trial and one is found in Region VII, the Cebu City Operation Second Chance.

In other areas where there are no detention homes, Patalinghug said that juvenile offenders are placed in detention cells barely preventing them from interacting with adult offenders or are actually locked up with them.

Patalinghug said that as provided in Article 203 of the Presidential Decree 603, otherwise known as the Child Youth and Welfare Code, LGUs are mandated to establish detention homes for juvenile offenders awaiting disposition in their cases.

She added that based on the count of juvenile offenders submitted by the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to the Department of Interior and Local Government, Region VII has a total of 232 children detained as of June 15, 2006.

Eric Mallonga, Founding President of the Child Justice League, said that the under the new law, a juvenile offenders who is fifteen years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense will be exempt from criminal liability.

However, the child will subjected to an appropriate intervention program of the local social welfare and development office.

"A child in conflict with the law who is above 15 years old but below eighteen years old is likewise exempted from criminal liability and is subjected to an intervention program unless he acted with discernment," Mallonga added.

He also said that juvenile offenders also have the right to probation as an alternative to imprisonment, if qualified, and he has the right to be free from liability of perjury, concealment or misinterpretation.

"The authority which has an initial contact with the child has the duty to immediately release the child to the custody of his parents or guardian, or in there absence, the child nearest relatives," he explained.

"If the relatives cannot be located, the child may be released to duly registered NGOs, a barangay official or a member of the barangay council for the protection of children, a local SWDO or DSWD," he added. - Jasmin R. Uy

CEBU CITY OPERATION SECOND CHANCE CHILD CHILD YOUTH AND WELFARE CODE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT EMMA PATALINGHUG ERIC MALLONGA FOUNDING PRESIDENT OF THE CHILD JUSTICE LEAGUE JASMIN R JUVENILE JUSTICE AND WELFARE ACT PATALINGHUG
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