Thursday, July 18, 2019

Editorial: Facilities for minor offenders

(Editorial Cartoon by Josua Cabrera)

IT’S a spruced up container van at P685,000, this temporary holding center for children in conflict with the law that the Cebu Provincial Government had launched in Dalaguete town.

Minor offenders from the Province’s second district towns of Alcoy, Argao, Boljoon, Oslob, Samboan and Santander will be kept there while agencies process their papers.

Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said there should be more holding centers and facilities for CICL in the province, particularly in the denser component cities of Toledo and Lapu-Lapu.

At present, the CICL facility in Consolacion accommodates 33 people, specifically falling within 10 to 14 years old. The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Integrated Development Center Inc. group turned over the facility to the Province in 2015.

Meanwhile, a P10-million Bahay Pag-asa Center for CICL is set to be built in a Provincial lot in Barangay Inayagan, City of Naga. It will be completed within six months.

With minors figuring in recent crime stories and as House Bill 8858, which proposed to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 12 years old, looms in the air after second reading approval, it may be high time again to talk about the building of proper facilities for CICL.

Last year’s statistics indicated increases in the number of CICL.

The Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center reported that 20,584 minors have surrendered to local police offices within two months since President Rodrigo Duterte stepped into power in 2016. Of that number, 2,971 were from Central Visayas.

The Cebu City Police Office last year noted an increase: from 82 juvenile delinquents in 2017 to 92 in 2018. This was based on a three-month trend from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, 2017 and the same period in 2018.

The significant increases were on theft; an increase of 39 in 2018, from 19 in 2017. Acts of lasciviousness increased from zero to four; frustrated homicide from one to two; and frustrated murder from one to zero. There is, however, a decrease in cases involving drugs, from 33 in 2017 vs 24 in 2018.

If the MACR is lowered, the figures will increase and the need for more facilities will become urgent.

Cebu City Department of Social Welfare Services Director Flora Bartolome said her agency expects a surge in the number of young offenders that will have to be accommodated at the Operation Second Chance Center.

The juvenile offenders need to be confined or detained in a supervised facility if only to keep the community and themselves safe. The holding center that the Province launched leaves more to be desired.


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