As students return to school this week, children in conflict with the law (CICL) in Valenzuela City themselves turn the page to a better chapter of their lives as the first city government-run rehabilitation center for their exclusive use opens this month.
Inaugurated today, May 31, the Bahay Pag-asa ng Valenzuela located at R. Jacinto Street in Barangay Canumay West is a 423.9-square-meter, two-storey building on a 639.2-square-meter walled grounds. The PhP 9 Million facility has a receiving area, three dormitories and a roof deck can accommodate 30 clients.
Twenty-eight CICL, whose ages range from 14 to 17, are set to be transferred to the rehabilitation center within the month of June as Bahay Pag-asa’s first batch of residents. Eight of them are currently housed in Bahay Kalinga, the city government-run halfway house situated right across Bahay Pag-asa, which is now nurturing 33 other clients that include sexually abused children, foundlings, and abandoned elderly. The twenty other CICL have been detained at the Valenzuela Police Station.
Bahay Pag-asa was built on the mandate of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006. Section 49 provides for the establishment of youth detention homes by the local government unit.
However, Bahay Pag-asa will be more than a detention home, or a temporary residential facility, as its minor-age residents will also be provided with appropriate activities designed to prepare them for reintegration to society, according to Bernardino Bautista, Officer-in-charge of Bahay Pag-asa and Bahay Kalinga. They will also be able to continue their studies through the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
SPO1 Lorena Hernandez, Officer-in-charge of the Women’s and Children’s Desk at the Valenzuela Police Station, said the opening of Bahay Pag-asa is a valuable help for the police.
“In the past, we used to bring CICL the PREDA [People’s Recovery Empowerment and Development Assistance; a non-government organization that runs shelters for street children and prostituted children] in Olongapo City, which is very far from here,” said Hernandez.
In a message during the inauguration ceremonies, guest of honor Undersecretary Parisya U. Taradji, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary for Operations and Programs and Juvenile Justice Welfare Council Chairperson, congratulated the city government for “investing on an entire intervention program and a facility that will benefit children.”
City mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian called on stakeholders to become a part of CICLs’ rehabilitation.
“Kahit magtayo po tayo ng maraming gusali at punuin ng mga bata, kung hindi natin sila tutulungan, hindi sila marereporma. Kailangan po ng mga taong tulad n’yo na magbibigay ng puso, ng oras para matulungan sila.(We can build as many buildings and fill them with children, but if we won’t help them reform, they won’t grow up into better persons. We need people like you who would give their heart and time),” he concluded.