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Legal basis sought for girl’s continued detention

(The Freeman) - January 31, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The lawyer of the controversial “beautiful girl” has asked the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children (PCWC) for legal grounds on continuing to confine her despite a release order from the court.

“They have no right to detain or confine her kay kinahanglan kuno og diversion program,” lawyer Rene Abcede Jr. told The Freeman.

He said the 16-year old girl has already posted a P40,000 bail in the estafa case filed against her for allegedly not paying her bill at a resort.

Despite the court’s release order, however, the Department of Social Welfare and Development continues to restrain the girl, depriving her of her constitutional right, Abcede said.

Citing the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, Abcede said children in conflict with the law (CICL) can only be placed in the custody of DSWD and be subjected to an intervention program if they are below 15 years old or 15 years above but below 18 who acted without discernment.

“Nganong i-confine man siya nga ang DSWD gani miingon nga she acted with discernment. We hope that DSWD to respect the release order” Abcede said.

Abcede said the minor’s confinement at a shelter for over a month now could be the reason why she attempted to commit suicide by medicine overdose two weeks ago.

Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, who co-chairs the PCWC, explained earlier that there is a need to follow ‘protocol’ as far as custody of CICLs are concerned, which should be ‘center to center’ or to the parents.

However, the parents reportedly refused to take custody of the girl and that the shelter cannot simply release her to her 18-year-old sister.

Under the law, authorities have the duty to release the child immediately to the custody of his or her parents or guardian, or in the absence thereof, the child’s nearest relative.

“If the parents, guardians or nearest relatives cannot be located, or if they refuse to take custody, the child may be released to any of the following: a duly registered nongovernmental or religious organization; a barangay official or a member of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children,” part of the provision reads.

Rose Jao, assistant head of the provincial social welfare office, said they can only release the girl once the relatives show willingness to keep her (minor).

“Kung among i-release, kinsa may modawat? Until such time nga naay modawat, ready mi kay makasuhan man pod mi ana kung di namo i-release,” she said.

The girl has been in the shelter since December following the filing of charges against her. – Michael Vencynth H. Braga/JMO (FREEMAN)

 

ABCEDE BARANGAY COUNCIL CEBU VICE GOVERNOR AGNES MAGPALE CITING THE JUVENILE JUSTICE AND WELFARE ACT DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT MICHAEL VENCYNTH H PROTECTION OF CHILDREN PROVINCIAL COUNCIL RELEASE RENE ABCEDE JR.
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