Last Aug. 16, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) Center for Restorative Action (CRA) initiated the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting with partner barangays from Malabon City and Navotas City held at the Barangay Dampalit Multipurpose Hall.

The TWG meeting was conducted by HLAF Team as part of the CRA-Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) Training in monitoring and mentoring strategies with the partner barangays.

Representatives from the BCPC partner barangays in Malabon and Navotas gathered at the TWG meeting were from Brgy. Tañong, Brgy. Tanza, Brgy. San Agustine, Brgy. Hulong Duhat, Brgy. Dampalit, Brgy. Longos, Brgy. Baritan, Brgy. West Navotas and Brgy. Tangos.

Before proceeding to the barangays’ report, HLAF Community Organizer, Ms. Emy Torrefiel led the discussion on the needed forms and requirements for the annual Juvenile Justice Volunteers’ Congress. This year’s JJVos theme “Sa Tulong ng Aktibong Pakikilahok ng JJVo, Tamang Pagpapatupad ng JJWA ay Masisigurado” focuses on the impact of the involvement of children and youth in the juvenile delinquency prevention and implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act at the community level. Also, this year will mark the fifth year of conducting the Juvenile Justice Volunteers (JJVos) Congress. It will also be an avenue for the participants to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act being one of the landmark legislation in the country.

BCPCs’ representatives from partner barangays of Malabon and Navotas reported their progress and statistics about the children in conflict with the law and children at risk cases. Some barangays also mentioned the interventions that helped them to lessen the CAR and CICL cases in their barangay. Different reports are as follows:

Barangay Tañong

Barangay Tañong shared one of the activities that their BCPC members are doing in their barangay. The barangay has activity on scavenging goods to contribute to their BCPC funds.

Barangay Tanza

Barangay Tanza reported that last July, their barangay held their organized BCPC seminar and BCYA committee. Also, to help the CICLs and CARs, Barangay Tanza conducted a clean-up drive and gardening involving CICLs and CARs in their barangay.

Barangay San Agustin 

Ms. Carol, a volunteer of BCPC from Brgy. San Agustine, stand as a representative of their barangay to report their program of “pagpapa-aral” for the CICLs and CARs to help them build their ground on education. She also mentioned the success story of one of the cases they handled in the barangay. The case of a 17-year-old was a former CICL and today, he is now helping his parents in their everyday activities.

Barangay Hulong Duhat

Barangay Kagawad Vlady Garcia presented the reports and updates on the barangay’s statistic report of 88 curfew cases and zero cases on CICL and CAR. He also shared that the barangay has two latest success stories. According to Kagawad Garcia, the counseling program is the first step in their intervention for their CICL and CAR cases. Also, the barangay’s BCPC has a list of names of CICLs and CARs for continuous monitoring and visitation.

Barangay Dampalit

According to BCPC Focal Person of Barangay Dampalit, Ms. Kimberly Fernandez Jugo) noted that their barangay held sports festivals and livelihood programs of paper bags for their youth as part of their intervention. To date, the barangay doesn’t have existing CICL and CAR cases.

Barangay Longos

Barangay Kagawad Edna Morit presented the barangay’s organized list of CICL and CAR cases data on their logbook. She also mentioned the step-by-step intervention program for their CAR and CICL cases.

Barangay Baritan

To date, Barangay Baritan reported that their barangay currently has a record of one CICL case and six CAR cases.

Barangay West Navotas

The success story of Barangay West Navotas was presented by Mr. Manuel Salao, a BCPC representative from Barangay West Navotas. He shared how they were able to attain their new BCPC headquarters. Also, he reported that as of to date, the barangay has zero record of CICL and CAR cases.

Barangay Tangos, Navotas

Ms. Geraldine Gonzales presented the update of Barangay Tangos’ BCPC program. The issue that the barangay was currently focused on was on teenage pregnancy inclined with the increasing cases of CICL in their barangay.

In the later part of the activity in the TWG meeting, the partner barangays were divided into groups according to their batch. HLAF’s Senior Social Worker and HLAF’s Senior Community Organizer, Mr. Luis Singgangan, RSW, and Ms. Claudette Almadin, RSW, asked the group to write a position paper on the BCPCs stand about the lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) from 15 years old to 9 years old. They explained how the position paper can be used and what will be the content of the paper.

HLAF considered the TWG meeting as a successful and good update from the BCPCs of partner barangays from Malabon and Navotas. HLAF looks forward to the future works of the barangays in working together for juvenile justice.

BJMP Region VII commends HLAF’s efforts in paralegal assistance

CEBU CITY, Phillipines -The Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) received a special award from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Region VII during its 26th Anniversary Celebration last August 15, 2016 at Casino Español de Cebu.

The award was received by HLAF Jail Decongestion Manager for Regions, Atty. Mary Catherine Alvarez. HLAF was recognized for its various paralegal assistance extended to the inmates in different jails in the region.

Visitation at Molave Youth Home as a Stimulation

According to the proceeding philosophy that children in conflict with the law (CICL) should not be housed with adult criminals, but should instead be treated with love, Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. implemented a program to the Quezon City’s Molave Youth Home— providing housing to hundreds of CICL. (Innovations Harvard Website; Molave Youth Home).

Molave Youth Home is often used to threaten children who misbehave. This creates terror for the children in the community. Children who are released from Molave Youth Home are often labeled as bad children.

However, Barangay Greater Lagro made a difference. Instead of threatening the children, they schedule a study tour to Molave Youth Home. The objective of the activity is to encourage additional child-rights advocates especially the children who would eventually suggest how to address the concerns of CICLs and children at risk (CAR) in their community. The visit also aims to change the impression of the children of the community to the CICLs.

Learning applied into Good Practice

In partnership with the Office of the Vice- Mayor (OVM) of Quezon City and Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) last October 2014 to January 2016, the Center for Restorative Action (CRA) of HLAF gave training for the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC).

In Quezon City, one of the challenges that social service delivery encounters is the lack of social workers in the field. Social workers play a vital role in handling cases of children at risk and children in conflict with the law and because of the limitation in manpower despite overloading cases in the barangay, there are instances that social workers were not able to attend some of the cases.

To address this, one of the members of Brgy. Pinyahan, a social worker took part as a volunteer in their BCPC. This volunteerism from a social worker helped the BCPC in addressing different issues. The social worker also helped in mentoring other BCPC members in different aspects regarding handling the children.

The said volunteerism from one of the members in the barangay catered to the part in which the BCPC members were able to practice resource mobilization and networking.

Conclusion of BCPC Training turned to Barangay Socialization Party

As the Center for Restorative Action (CRA) of Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) concluded their Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) training, the participating barangays set up a socialization party as a finale of their BCPC training.

The training was under the partnership of HLAF with the Office of the Vice- Mayor (OVM) of Quezon City last October 2014 to January 2016. The barangays occasionally gather for an event where they can associate with each other.

The participating barangay brought food to share, inspire each other with their messages and share memories of happiness as they sing and dance together. During the first batch of socialization parties, one barangay provided a live band performance to entertain their co-trainees from other barangays. The barangay chairman of the host barangay also dedicated a song to the BCPC member trainees.

The other batch set-up video and the BCPC trainees have their group performances. Two barangay chairman dedicated a dance number to the guests.

All of these shows that the camaraderie and ties strengthen during the series of training by the CRA Team.

Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) Kamustahan

The Center for Restorative Action (CRA) of Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) first empowers the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) in two highly urbanized cities in the National Capital Region specifically Quezon City and Caloocan City. With this, the CRA Team suggested coming up with an activity called BCPC Kamustahan wherein barangays come up together to share the present status of their BCPC especially about the children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL).

The BCPC Kamustahan activity was taken into action by the barangays and they set up their own BCPC Kamustahan. They also set up the logistics and program of the said activity. Prior to the Kamustahan, they mentor and coach each other to be able to come up with the expected output.

This event serves as an avenue of learning from the experiences of others and an opportunity to network.

Full- circle with their own group

Finally, a group they can embrace their selves in.

In partnership with the Office of the Vice- Mayor (OVM) of Quezon City, Center for Restorative Action (CRA) training paid off as they witnessed how a trained barangay indulge an organized group for children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL).

One of the parts of the training given by CRA in Module 2, their common problem is the participation rights of the children in their respective barangays and the involvement of the youth in their activities. Most of the youth were involved in the formation of gangs and most of them cause trouble instead of helping in their barangays.

To address this, Barangay Balingasa organized the Balingasa Youth Association (BYA) that caters to the CICLs and CAR at their barangays and also provides them with counseling. The current president of the BYA is a former CICL and one of the regular activities of BYA is the library session of their co-children.

The action that the barangay has taken is a very good exemplar of how to encourage the youth to participate in the barangay’s Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) committees and activities in order to prove that the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 can be implemented in the community level.

Child Protection Policy as Barangay Ordinance

The support and dedication to restorative justice continue as one of the trained barangay of Center for Restorative Action (CRA) of Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) was able to pass a child protection policy as their barangay ordinance.

One of the parts in the duration of CRA training within barangays is the child protection policy. This task is considered one of the most challenging and very difficult for the barangays to make.

However, the kagawad-in-charge of Barangay Culiat, Kagawad Cristina Bernardino, was very eager in attending training and was able to draft a policy and pass it as an ordinance on child protection policy to their barangays.

It is also noted that in the partnership with the Office of the Vice- Mayor (OVM) of Quezon City, at the end of 2014, Barangay Culiat was able to make the youth in their community participate in the BCPC committee in their barangay.

The said barangay ordinance was also passed under the partnership of HLAF with the OVM of Quezon City.

Barangay Kagawads complete the CRA Training Module

For years, the Center of Restorative Action (CRA) of Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) is giving training for the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) to empower communities to live out restorative justice values.

Based on the experience of the CRA Team, attendance coming from the barangay officials in the training is one of the most challenging matters being encountered. With the partnership of HLAF and the Office of the Vice- Mayor (OVM) of Quezon City last October 2014 to January 2016, there were 10 barangay kagawads that finished the BCPC Basic training and the Advance Training.

During the BCPC Basic Trainings, there were seven barangay kagawads who completed the training namely: Kgd. Malou Azarcon (Bgy. San Antonio), Kgd. Hermie Diaz (Bgy. Katipunan), Kgd. Rey Mark Navarro (Bgy. San Antonio), Kgd. Zenaida Home (Bgy. Quirino 2B), Kgd. Armida Castel (Bgy. Kamuning), Bgy. Susan Dumapit-Laya (Bgy. Pinyahan), Kgd. Crisente Pedro (Bgy. Greater Lagro).

In the advance training, there are three (3) kagawad who completed the training namely: Kgd.  Malou Azarcon (Bgy. San Antonio), Kgd. Crisente Pedro (Bgy. Greater Lagro) and Kgd. Cristina Bernardino (Bgy. Culiat).

The participation of the kagawad(s) motivates other BCPC members to attend and actively participate in the training.

To put the Workshop into Action

Make a visionary one step ahead.

The Center for Restorative Action (CRA) is making one step ahead as their training progress into workshop output format wherein most of the barangays adopt the format – making them more efficient in the services they provide. The workshop output format helps the barangays deliver services holistically which will encompass all categories of child’s rights. This development in the training within the barangays happened along the time span of the partnership of Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) with the Office of the Vice- Mayor (OVM) of Quezon City last October 2014 to January 2016.

In Module 2, Comprehensive Local Juvenile Intervention Plan, barangays were taught to create a vision for their Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC). The barangay started the workshop with the challenges they encounter in the different committees of BCPC and what they see as the cause of these problems. From the problems, CRA Team assisted the participants of the workshop to create a goal based on the problems they identify. The final matrix plan was formulated. The matrix plan was divided into different categories of child’s rights and a special committee for community-based restorative justice.

With this workshop output format, the projects and activities that the barangays envisions within the workshop were the ones they cater to implement in their own barangays. It is a big development in the training as the barangays were able to identify and assess the needed activities in their BCPCs for the children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL).