P1B for detention centers ‘ill-advised’
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Wednesday expressed concern over the decision of the Duterte administration to add P1 billion to the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the construction of detention centers for juvenile delinquents.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the increased funding for detention centers for child offenders may have been ill-advised.
The funding, she said, “should have gone into youth rehabilitation and redirection, not detention.”
“It’s a recommendation without proper orientation,” Hontiveros said.
Fellow opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan said that, although the additional funding for the construction of halfway houses, known as Bahay Pag-asa, was a positive initiative, he was worried that the amount “will not be utilized for its true purpose.”
“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, referring to Republic Act No. 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.
The senator said the improper enforcement of the law had resulted in the increased number of offenders among the country’s youth.
“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,” Pangilinan said.
Sen. Grace Poe agreed that the additional funds should be used for the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents and not their detention.
Poe also said she did not support the proposed lowering of the age of criminal responsibility from 12 to nine.
“For me, [being] 12 years old is still not [old] enough to have [discernment and] awareness of the situation around you,” she explained.
“Instead of punishing the children, we should go after the syndicates [using them],” she added.
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