February 9, 2023

More than ensuring the speedy disposition of cases, implementation of restorative justice for children in conflict with the law (CICLs) through various intervention programs is equally important.

Judge Mia Cawed of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court, and a member of the Cordillera Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (RJJWC), stressed during the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera- led virtual forum.

Aside from government interventions and support of the civil society, Cawed also outlined the importance of parents and family members  in instilling to children the right values and life skills that will help them in the discernment of what is right or wrong, which will guide them away from bad behavior or deeds.

Restorative justice can truly help CICLs start a new life, “Boy” said during the forum.

Boy, a former CICL, was housed at the DSWD Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Youth (RRCY) in Sablan,  Benguet. He has since reformed and graduated with a degree in Social Work. He is now reviewing for his board exam.  

Aside from the DSWD-RRCY, there are also Bahay Pag-asa centers established in Abra, Kalinga, and Ifugao which serve as child caring institutions offering rehabilitation and intervention to CICLs.

RJJWC chairperson and DSWD-Cordillera Director Leo Quintilla said they partner with regional line agencies, local government units, and other private partners to ensure that needed interventions are readily available.

The RRCY and Bahay Pag-asa in the region offer a comfortable or similar to a one-star hotel accommodation for CICLs.

The forum, dubbed as “Ba-Li-Tok” or Bata-Lipunan Talk was attended by RJJWC members; youths from the Bahay Pag-asa in Abra, Ifugao, and Kalinga; and members of the Baguio Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo.

Representatives from the RJJWC members provided orientation on the role of their respective agencies in line with the five pillars of justice and on Republic Act 9344 or the Philippine Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

Quintilla said that Ba-Li-Tok highlights the celebration of Juvenile Justice and Welfare Consciousness Week and aims to be a venue to discuss the concerns, not only of CICLs but also to look into the impact of the Covid-19 to the health and welfare of children.

“As we share government programs from them, it is equally important that we hear it from the children, their needs and concerns in this time of pandemic, Quintilla said.

The Cordillera RJJWC led the observance of the 9th Juvenile Justice and Welfare Consciousness Week on Nov. 23 to 27, which adopted the theme, “Karapatan ng bawat bata sa panahon ng pandemya, siguruhin, pagpapatupad ng Juvenile Justice Law pag-igtingin.” – Carlito C. Dar