Onward to the next 25 years CLB!

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

I would like to congratulate the Children’s Legal Bureau, Inc. (CLB) on its 25th anniversary last May 28, 2022. CLB has, over these 25 years, cemented its legacy in empowering children and communities for the protection of the rights of children with its slogan “A just world for children.”

CLB’s 25th anniversary celebration was highlighted by a dinner for a cause last Saturday at the Aula Magna Hall, Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center in Cebu City, with the theme “Bolstering Legal Advocacy for Child Protection”. Net proceeds of the dinner tickets will go to CLB’s legal defense fund which is set up to provide financial legal assistance and support for cases involving child victims as well as legal issues concerning children’s rights and welfare.

I have recently been inducted to the CLB as member of its Board of Trustees representing the media sector. I and Cybel Tantay (secretary and youth representative) are an addition to the incumbent trustees namely, retired judge Meinrado Paredes, Atty. Archill Niña Capistrano (chairman), Rosemarie Gonato (vice chairman), Fe Evelyn Garcia (auditor), and Audie Joseph V. Samson.

Even before this, as an outsider, I was already familiar with CLB due to its various programs and active advocacies in the community, including empowering communities toward justice for children, anti-trafficking of children and women, five pillars of justice for children’s rights, and diversion of children in conflict with the law (CICL), among others.

CLB actually started way back from its official date of incorporation, as a special project in 1996 of the Protestant Lawyers’ League of the Philippines- Cebu Chapter. After consultations with government agencies and civil society organizations, the league decided to form a legal group that shall focus on children’s concerns. In September 1996, CLB was formed with Atty. Magdalena Ramos Lepiten as its first executive director. The organization was later formally organized as a non-stock corporation on May 28, 1997, thus marking its anniversary date.

Today, overseeing the regular activities and special projects of CLB is its executive director, Atty. Joan Dymphna Saniel-Amit, and deputy executive director, Atty. Noemi T. Abarientos, both ably steering the organization amid the challenging times. They are instrumental in directing the organization’s short and long-term plans together with the BOT.

CLB took the anniversary celebration last Saturday also as an occasion to recognize distinguished individuals in the community for their contribution to the advocacy for children’s rights and welfare. Given the Lifetime Achievement Award by CLB were retired Court of Appeals justice Gabriel T. Ingles, Judge Amy Avellano, Judge Yvonne Artiaga, and Judge Fritz Ritchie Avila.

Awarded as Outstanding Child’s Rights Advocate were Krisha Natalie M. Algones, Niño John M. Yballe, Windell Dejero, Ed Michael Abelgas, and Ben Ric Castillon. Castillon, who gave the response on behalf of his fellow child rights advocate awardees, shared a touching story of a former child in conflict with the law whom society gave a chance to recover and eventually excel in life. That child was Castillon himself and he thanked CLB, especially its executive director Atty. Saniel-Amit, for the second chance in life.

“Mao na kung magkita ta, mo-amen g’yud ko nimo (take your hand to my forehead), not just as a sign of respect but also to remind you of what you did and to inspire you and CLB to keep doing what you are doing,” said Castillon, a former CICL who now works as a human resource associate after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree major in Psychology from the University of Cebu.


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