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DSWD bucks lowering of age of discernment

Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - December 25, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is against the move to lower the age of discernment from the current 16 years to 12 years.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said that they have launched their “Road to Diversion” campaign to garner public support against further amending Republic Act 10630 or an Act Strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act in the Philippines to lower the age of discernment.

“The position of the DSWD and the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council headed by attorney Patricia Oco is that any such move will not help our children who have gone astray,” Soliman said at the recent launch of the Road to Diversion program.

“There are many people who have proposed to lower the age of discernment. Right now it’s 16 years old, they want to make it 12 years old,” Soliman said.

“That means, when children the age of 13, 14, and 15 – are arrested for alleged criminal acts – will be thrown into jail to join adult criminal offenders,” Soliman said.

“We know that this will make things worse for our children, whom we can still change for the better,” she said.

Soliman said that RA 10630 stipulates the rehabilitation and not condemnation of young criminal offenders.

The DSWD chief said that the law, enacted in 2013, has paved the way for the establishment of intensive juvenile intervention and support centers or Bahay Pag-Asa around the country.

Soliman said that these centers have shown effectiveness in changing or reforming the lives of young offenders.

Bahay Pag-Asa is a 24-hour residential facility that provides temporary care and serves as a rehabilitation center for children in conflict with the law.

Currently, there are 21 operational Bahay Pag-Asa in various regions.

ACT STRENGTHENING THE JUVENILE JUSTICE AND WELFARE ACT AGE BAHAY PAG-ASA CHILDREN DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT JUVENILE JUSTICE AND WELFARE COUNCIL PATRICIA OCO REPUBLIC ACT SOCIAL WELFARE SECRETARY CORAZON SOLIMAN SOLIMAN
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