Fund for enforcement of Juvenile Justice Law released in trickles

Trinidad, who spoke at the city government's "Gikan sa Masa, para sa Masa" (From the masses, for the masses) television program Sunday, said they have learned from a recent summit in Manila that only P3 million has been released of the fund so far.

Trinidad chairs the City Council Committee on Women, Children & Family Relations.

"This is a point to raise about the government's political will to implement the law," she said in the midst of wide opposition to the law, including from local government units around the country.

The Juvenile Justice Law or Republic Act 9344 was passed last year.

But Trinidad recognized the hurdles of implementation.

"Passing the law is already the easiest part. The hardest part is the implementation, " she told viewers of the weekly television program.

She said in a privilege speech that authorities are still groping for the right procedures in the arrest and detention of minors committing crimes of varying degrees.

Librado said regardless of the gravity of the crime of child offenders, they still should go through the city's rehabilitative process.

"But there should be a difference in the degree of intervention, " she said.

"Dapat mas bug-at ug mas dugay ang intervention sa atong mas bug-at ang kaso," (Intervention should also be heavier and longer for graver cases) she said.

She said authorities should consider the aggrieved parties in the intervention.

"There should be a study or an office to focus on the degree of intervention for offending minors," she said.

Librado also said that before returning offenders to the custody of their parents, proper mechanisms should be observed to carefully evaluate if the latter are capable of taking care and providing protection to their children.

"If not, then the State has the responsibility to keep them in its facilities for children," she said.

Marilyo Agannia, of the City Social Service and Development Office said they have been accommodating those children for at least six to eight months as they look for foster parents from among relatives and other people.

But she admitted that the stigma attached to the offenders as lawbreakers make it difficult to find foster parents for them.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has expressed opposition to the law saying it has emboldened youth offenders and does not help keep peace and order in the community.

Several local government units have reportedly joined Duterte's call for the scrapping of the law.

But the mayor agreed to a proposal from civil society and other groups supporting the law to employ a social welfare officer in each barangay, make the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children function, and create the Special Office for the Concerns of Children.

Aggania said the city government will start building a multi-million "social service complex" in 2008 which is expected to house child offenders, among others.

Leah Henson, a representative from civil society groups, stressed the role of parents in building the character of children.

"Walay buluyagon nga bata, kung walay buluyagon nga mga ginikanan," (There would be no irresponsible children, if there are no irresponsible parents).