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DSWD official explains proper handling of cases involving children in conflict with the law

A senior official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Thursday (March 7) explained to reporters the proper handling and management of cases involving children in conflict with the law (CICL) during an interview at the Central Office’s New Press Center in Quezon City.

DSWD Asst. Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez said there are proper procedures in the handling and management of CICL cases in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 9344 as amended by RA No. 10630 or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA)”.

“Hindi ibig sabihin na ikaw ay fully exempted sa kaso dahil menor de edad ka. May pananagutan pa rin ang menor de edad at sinisigurado ng DSWD o ng Local Social Welfare and Development Offices (LSWDO) na dadaan ito sa tamang proseso,” Asst. Sec. Lopez, who is also the DSWD spokesperson, told reporters who attended the weekly DSWD Media Forum.

(Just because you are a minor does not mean you are fully exempted from an offense. Minors still have accountability, and the DSWD or the LSWDO will ensure that they go through the proper process.)

The DSWD Thursday Media Forum is hosted by Asst. Sec Lopez and Director Aldrine Fermin of the Traditional Media Service (TMS) which is under the Strategic Communications office. It is livestreamed over the DSWD Facebook.

Asst. Sec. Lopez pointed out that the JJWA establishes a comprehensive and child-sensitive procedure that ensures the best interest of the child/ren.

“Sa ilalim ng batas, tinitingnan ang edad, discernment, nagawang paglabag at bigat ng paglabag kung saan dapat dalhin o i-refer ang isang CICL,” Asst. Sec. Lopez said.

(Under the law, the age, discernment, committed offense, and gravity of the offense are considered in determining where a CICL should be taken or referred.)

Children above 12 years old (and 15 years old and below) who committed serious offenses, will be placed in the Bahay Pag-Asa and will be under the care and supervision of a special unit called the Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center (IJISC).

For children above 15 but below 18 years old at the time of the commission of the offense, the LSWDO will assess whether or not the CICL has acted with discernment.

If the child is found to have acted with discernment and the impossible penalty of the offense is more than 12 years of imprisonment, a case may be filed against the child in court. If the penalty is not more than six (6) years of imprisonment, the child must undergo the process of diversion.

Diversion is an alternative, child-sensitive process of determining the responsibility of the child in conflict with the law without resorting to formal court proceedings.

The procedure can be implemented at the levels of Katarungang Pambarangay, the Police, and Prosecutor. If the penalty is more than six (6) years but not more than 12 years, the diversion will be at the Court level.

The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), an attached agency of the DSWD is tasked through its members and coordinating agencies to monitor the implementation of the JJWA, as amended.

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