THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and its attached agency, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), bared gains from the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) or Republic Act 9344.
DSWD and JJWC highlighted gains from the law in celebration of its 15th anniversary on May 20, 2021, with the theme, “JJWA: Patuloy sa Pagtataguyod sa Karapatan ng mga Bata sa Bagong Normal!”
The theme reflects the continuing goal of the DSWD, JJWC, and all other stakeholders in promoting the welfare and upholding the rights of children at all times.
Under the JJWA, children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL) are given hope and a second chance to restore their lives and dignity and to start anew and create a better future for themselves.
Since the enactment of JJWA in 2006 and the passage of Republic Act (RA) 10630 in 2013, which amended and strengthened RA 9344, DSWD and JJWC have persevered to ensure the full implementation of the law.
Prior to the enactment of the law, children committing petty crimes or status offenses were treated similarly as adult offenders.
From 1995 to 2000, a total of 52,576 children were in detention or under custodial setting while an average of 10,515 children was being arrested every year with few cases being resolved.
Likewise, majority of jails all over the country do not have separate detention facilities for children.
The CICL then suffered from different kinds of abuses, especially under custody or detention, but the enactment of JJWA has altered this picture, reaching a landmark on child protection law.
The law mandates the adoption of the principle of restorative justice, prohibiting the detention of children in jails, providing juvenile offenders prevention programs at the local level, introducing diversion, and strengthening rehabilitation, reintegration, and aftercare programs.
JJWA also seeks to establish a protective environment for children so that they will not commit crimes or be victims of crimes.
In 2020, JJWC monitored a total of 1,079 children from BPAs and other youth care facilities that were reintegrated into the community.
The DSWD, JJWC, and child protection advocates strongly encourage local government units to continue to uphold children’s rights through appropriate interventions and ensure the full implementation of the law, especially in the new normal.
Meanwhile, the JJWC reported the many efforts it has taken to ensure the full implementation of the law. These include enhancement in various aspects of its mandate focusing on Policy Formulation and Program Development, Research and Information Management, Advocacy and Social Mobilization, Technical Assistance to Stakeholders, and Monitoring and Evaluation.
The DSWD and JJWC remain committed to promoting and protecting the rights of CAR and CICL under a restorative justice and welfare system.