By Chito Chavez
The absence of jail facilities for minors has compelled the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to accommodate children in conflict with the law (CICL).
BJMP head Jail Chief Superintendent Allan Iral said the bureau has 59 CICL under its custody but made it clear the minors are separated from the adult law violators.
Iral further explained even if the law does not allow this the courts are forced to issue commitment orders as some local government units (LGU) do not have “Bahay Pag-asa’’ or rehabilitation centers for juvenile delinquents where the minor law offenders may be placed.
Currently BJMP spokesman Chief Inspector Xavier Solda said the congestion rate in the BJMP jail facilities is at a staggering 442 percent.
“The BJMP is not allowed to accept CICL but there are local government units that do not have Bahay Pag-Asa [facilities], so the courts issue commitment orders to PCP (police community precinct),” Iral said.
The BJMP chief said that most of the 59 CICL are from Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) region.
He noted the youth offenders are in the 15 to 17 years old range and are mostly facing drug-related offenses.
Iral added that at present there are no children facing charges detained in the BJMP-manned jail facilities in the National Capital Region (NCR).
To resolve the concern, Iral said the issue of having CICL detained at the BJMP jails have been thoroughly discussed in meetings among the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, CICL should be placed under the custody of the DSWD for rehabilitation purposes.
Iral explained that by the time the CICL reach 18 years old only then will they be tried in court.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) noted there were 9,561 CICL based on its 2018 record.