By Joel Cristobal

MISMANAGEMENT? Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has flagged the “sudden” Php1-billion increase in budget for the construction of more “Bahay Pag-asa” (half-way houses) for children in conflict with the law (CICL), warning that the additional funds may pave the way for its mismanagement. PANGILINAN’S FB PAGE

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has flagged the Php1-billion increase in budget for the construction of more “Bahay Pag-asa” (half-way houses) for children in conflict with the law (CICL), warning that the additional funds may pave the way for its mismanagement.

While an increase in funding for the half-way houses is welcome under the guidance of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, Pangilinan expressed wariness that the “sudden” increase in appropriations will not be utilized for its true purpose.

“The problem has [always] been with 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,” the opposition Senator said in a press statement on Wednesday.

In mid-February, the legislative chambers added the appropriations to the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Avenue

“More Bahay Pag-asa units is 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, the latter of which is referred to the proposed measure of lowering the age of criminal responsibility.

The lawmaker urged the administration to ensure the proper implementation of the Act. “Local government units need to revisit their thrusts as they share half of the responsibility in building Bahay Pag-asa in their jurisdiction,” he added.

“We hope the DSWD can provide a comprehensive plan on how to properly implement the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act and make Bahay Pag-asa real homes of hope without criminalizing young offenders,” Pangilinan stressed.

“Bahay Pag-asa” or House of Hope is a 24-hour youth reform center that provides short-term residential care, and caters to CICL.