Sec. Taguiwalo asks for additional budget for children in conflict with the law housed in DSWD centers

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that much can be done to help Filipino youth involved in criminal activity to recover and become rehabilitated so that their anti-social tendencies and activities will be nipped in the bud.

She said that as a national government agency, the DSWD has the responsibility to help set the direction when it comes to helping Filipino families help their younger member avoid becoming full-fledged criminals.

Sec. Taguiwalo said that the bed capacity of the centers are not equal to the number of cases served and being served. This affects the rehabilitation program of the residents.

"The National Training School for Boys (NTSB) is overcrowded and cannot comply with the set standards. The increasing number of clients being served makes it necessary and urgent for the DSWD to ask for an increased budget so we can hire additional staff and expand the facilities, the clients and the center's needs," Sec. Taguiwalo said.

"We want to help CICL or children in conflict with the law to transform themselves and one day become productive members of society. These children come from impoverished families and backgrounds, and it is not their fault that they have become vulnerable to engaging in criminal activities. They have been entrusted by the courts to the DSWD and its centers, and we want to do what is right for them so they can be prevented from turning to full-time careers in crime and anti-social activities," she said.

The DSWD maintains 15 facilities for male CICL nationwide and continuously providing programs and services for them.

There are nine programs and services that are implemented at the DSWD's Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth/Mimaropa Youth Center/National Training School for Boys. These programs have been strengthened to ensure that they have a positive impact on the lives of the clients.

These are Homelife Services/Group Living Arrangement; Social Services; Educational Services; Psychological Services; Spiritual Enhancement Services; Productivity/Livelihood Services; Legal Services; and Recreational Services.

When it comes to health services, medical/physical/dental check-ups are being provided to the youth residents. If and when it was discovered that there are more serious health issues and concerns, they are taken to health centers or hospitals run by the government. In the meantime, as per the policy of the center, the clients are assisted to get drug testing.

Under the category of psychological services, the DSWD provides regular individual and group counseling sessions focused on reflection of misbehavior, building good interpersonal relationships, developing good study habits, and maintaining proper hygiene and positive values.

Newly-admitted residents are given psychological tests as required by the law. When specific problems are assessed by the rehabilitation team, individual therapy sessions are implemented. There are also group therapy sessions to help the residents cope with and overcome boredom. Other therapies provided are Expressive Arts Therapy, Play Therapy, and Personality Development.

Educational services are also an important program for the CICL residents of the RRCYs. Functional literacy classes and tutorials are conducted, as well as alternative learning sessions. Some of the CICL are also engaged in regular schooling. In coordination with TESDA and other agencies, practical skills trainings are also provided the residents.

Regarding the productivity/livelihood services, majority of RRCYs are focused on backyard gardening and agro-farming as part of their treatment intervention and preparation for their eventual reintegration in mainstream society.

Finally, when it comes to legal services, the DSWD ensures continuous coordination with lawyers from the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and judiciaries for the speedy trial of cases involving the CICL.

The minors are escorted to court hearings, pre-trial sessions, and other appearances in court. Continuous dialogues are also conducted with the residents regarding the cases.

Cases served

For the second quarter of the year, 1,180 clients were served by the DSWD in its various field offices all over the country. Field Office IV-A (NTSB) served the biggest number of clients with 385 residents in its RRCY; followed by RRCY FO III with a total of 124. The smallest numbers of clients are from FO XII and CAR. Both RRCYs served 19 clients each.

Source: Philippine Information Agency