P1-B additional funding for youth detention facilities reasonable – Gordon

Published May 29, 2019, 6:39 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday said he finds the additional P1-billion funding for the creation of detention facilities for youth offenders as reasonable.

Sen. Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Richard Gordon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gordon, who chairs the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the construction of more “Bahay Pagasa” is a welcome development amid complaints about the proposed law that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR).

“Yes, because umaangal sila dun sa pagbaba ng MACR. Di ko na maintindihan ang mga tao, ayaw nila ibaba (because they keep on complaining on lowering the MACR. I don’t understand the people when they refuse to lower it),” Gordon said.

The senator said providing shelter or halfway houses for juvenile delinquents is a necessity given the need to separate juvenile offenders from regular prisoners and hardened criminals.

“So bakit angal ng angal, eh wala na ba tayong consensus? (so why keep on complaining? Don’t we have any consensus?),” he pointed out.

“It doesn’t matter if we have not yet passed the bill lowering the MACR. We still need detention centers for children,” Gordon stressed.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan had earlier expressed alarm over the increase in the funding for the construction of more Bahay Pag-asa and expressed wariness that this would not be utilized for this purpose.

Pangilinan said that while increased funding for the construction of more Bahay Pag-asa is welcome under the guidance of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, “the problem has always been in the implementation of the law.”

“More funding means more ways in which the law will be implemented, but it also means more ways in which the fund may be mismanaged,” Pangilinan said.

“More Bahay Pag-asa units are welcome as an avenue for restorative justice, for children who are only victims of their circumstance. It means that there is no need to criminalize children,” he said.

“We need to ensure proper implementation of the law. Local government units need to revisit their thrusts as they share half of the responsibility in building Bahay Pag-asa in their jurisdiction. Is an appropriation of additional P1 billion really necessary to meet the need?” Pangilinan pointed out.

Pangilinan said he can only hope that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) can provide a comprehensive plan on how to properly implement the JJWA and make Bahay Pag-asa real homes of hope without criminalizing younger offenders.