Additional P1 billion for Bahay Pag-asa may be mismanaged â Pangilinan
Children in Bahay Pag-Asa say a short prayer while in line before they start with their daily activities.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo

Additional P1 billion for Bahay Pag-asa may be mismanaged — Pangilinan

(Philstar.com) - May 29, 2019 - 5:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Pangilinan expressed alarm over the P1-billion additional funding for the construction of more rehabilitation facilities for children in conflict with the law, warning the allotment might not be used for its true purpose.

Pangilinan, author of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, questioned the necessity of the appropriation of the additional P1 billion in a statement Wednesday.

“More funding means more ways in which the law will be implemented but it also means more ways in which the fund may be mismanaged,” he said.

The lawmaker said the proper implementation of the law must be ensured as he stressed that execution has always been the problem.

“Local government units need to revisit their thrusts as they share half of the responsibility in building Bahay Pag-asa in their jurisdiction,” Pangilinan said.

Bahay Pag-asa centers are child-caring institutions built to offer rehabilitation and intervention to children in conflict with the law. Under the current law, these facilities are established and run by LGUs.

There are only 63 Bahay Pag-asa facilities nationwide, five of which are no longer operational, according to the government’s Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council.

‘Don’t criminalize young offenders’

Pangilinan stressed there is no need to criminalize youth offenders with the expected rise of more Bahay Pag-asa centers.

“More Bahay Pag-asa units is welcomed as an avenue for restorative justice, for children who are only victims of their circumstance. It means that there is no need to criminalize children,” he said.

The lawmaker added: “We hope the DSWD can provide a comprehensive plan on how to properly implement the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act and make Bahay Pag-asa real homes of hope without criminalizing younger offenders.”

The Senate is expected to pass the controversial bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old before the 17th Congress ends.

Its counterpart bill at the House of Representatives has been approved on third and final reading. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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