Empowering Catanduanes: HLAF’s LCPC Functionality Module Training for Child Protection

The Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. empower the local communities and promote the rights of Children across Catanduanes Province. HLAF has undertaken a significant initiative aimed at enhancing the functionality of the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC). This comprehensive training program seeks to equip local duty bearers and community members from the Municipalities of Pandan, Bagamanoc, Viga, and Panganiban with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively fulfill their roles and responsibilities within the LCPC framework.

HLAF’s functionality module training is designed to address a diverse range of topics pertinent to child protection and community welfare. Participants are immersed in discussions and practical exercises aimed at deepening their understanding of child sensitivity, pertinent child protection laws and policies, child development principles, and the importance of conducting situational analyses of children within both national and local contexts. the training explores various mechanisms for protecting children, highlighting the critical role of engaging different stakeholders involved in child protection efforts.

The LCPC functionality module training represents a crucial step toward fostering community empowerment and collaboration in the pursuit of child protection. As HLAF continues to champion the rights and welfare of children across Catanduanes, initiatives like these serve as a testament to the organization’s unwavering commitment to creating safer and more nurturing environments for children to thrive and flourish.

As HLAF continues to champion the rights and welfare of children across Catanduanes, initiatives like these serve as a testament to the HLAF unwavering commitment to creating safer and more nurturing environments for children to thrive and flourish. The dedication of HLAF to support and empower duty bearers ensures that the future of child protection in Catanduanes is robust and sustainable.

Through the concerted efforts of HLAF and the active participation of local community members, the dream of a secure and supportive environment for every child in Catanduanes is becoming a reality. This initiative not only enhances the functionality of the LCPC but also instills a sense of shared responsibility and collaboration among all stakeholders involved in protecting the rights and well-being of children.

HLAF’s Commitment to Safeguarding Children’s Rights open an opportunity to enhance the BCPC’s functionality with DILG-QC

Aiming to ensure the rights of the children are upheld, protected and respected, HLAF continues to work closely with LGUs to strengthen BCPC functionality. April 5, 2024 

HLAF held a courtesy visit with stakeholders, including representatives from LGUs, to discuss strategies for strengthening BCPC functionality. The meeting served as a platform for HLAF to provide updates on its ongoing initiatives and collaborations with LGUs regarding BCPC programs and initiatives. Through open and collaborative discussions, HLAF provide updates to DILG QC Director, Emmanuel Borromeo. HLAF and LGU representatives identified areas for improvement and explored innovative approaches to address the evolving challenges faced by BCPCs in fulfilling their mandate. 

During the meeting, HLAF reiterated its unwavering commitment to supporting LGUs in their efforts to promote child welfare and protection at the grassroots level. HLAF’s dedication to capacity-building and training initiatives for BCPC members, coupled with its advocacy for policy reforms and resource mobilization, underscores its holistic approach to strengthening BCPC functionality. 

As the discussions progressed, it became evident that HLAF’s collaborative efforts with LGUs have yielded tangible results in enhancing BCPC effectiveness and responsiveness to the needs of children and families in communities.  Looking ahead, HLAF remains steadfast in its resolve to deepen its partnership with LGUs and other stakeholders in the pursuit of a more inclusive and child-friendly society.  

Through continued collaboration, advocacy, and action, HLAF and LGUs are poised to make significant strides in upholding and protecting the rights of every child, ensuring that they have the opportunity to thrive, growth, and fulfill their potential. 

The SIMULA 3 Project continues coordination in BARMM, ensuring the strengthening of advocacy and inclusivity for children

The SIMULA 3 Project, led by the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. in collaboration with UNICEF, aims to strengthen the Juvenile Justice Welfare System in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The continues coordination of SIMULA 3 Project ensures the implementation of the project in BARMM. 

HLAF SIMULA 3 project in BARMM ensures inclusivity of diverse culture of children  

In furthering the proactive measures to enhance the implementation of the SIMULA 3 project in BARMM, consultation meetings were conducted with SUBATRA on March 26, 2024, and the Ministry of Indigenous People Affairs last April 8, 2024. At these meetings, Atty. Gilbert Sembrano Bautista, Technical Assistance Team Leader of SUBATRA, and Minister Melanio Ulama of the Ministry of Indigenous People Affairs participated separately. 

The consultations aimed to consolidate support from various stakeholders to strengthen the juvenile justice welfare system, taking into account the diverse cultural practices of vulnerable children in BARMM 

SUBATRA expressed its commitment to assisting HLAF throughout the project’s implementation, particularly in reviewing plans to mainstream children’s rights, providing support for barangay training in handling cases involving children in conflict with the law (CICL) and children-at-risk (CAR), addressing the root causes of delinquency and re-offending and provide support in incorporating the customs and traditions of IP’s in justice system. 

Similarly, the Ministry of Indigenous People Affairs (MIPA) also expressed their commitment to supporting projects that prioritize the best interests of indigenous children. “I really appreciate na nainclude kami sa magagandang program Ninyo. Within the scope ng area ko. Masaya yung mga IP na may programa na [ma-include sila] sa aming probinsya.Malaking tulong ito sa mga IPs. Kung makikita nyo yung situation nila madami silang problema [na kailangan ma-address]” 

By engaging with SUBATRA, MIPA, and other stakeholders, the SIMULA 3 project aims to foster a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs and challenges faced by vulnerable children in BARMM, advocating their holistic well-being. 

Strengthening Child Advocacy: HLAF’s Engagement with BARMM Stakeholders for SIMULA 3 Project 

HLAF visited partners and stakeholders fostering connections and igniting conversations integral to the SIMULA 3 project in BARMM for the SIMULA 3 project – March 18-21, 2024 HLAF had the privilege of meeting with esteemed offices including UNICEF, the Ministry of Social Services Development, the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government, the Regional Darul-Ifta’, and the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission. These engagements provided invaluable opportunities to exchange insights, align objectives, and strategize for collective action. 

At the core of the SIMULA 3 project, the objective to capacitate duty bearers in effectively fulfilling their responsibilities towards children. By providing training, resources, and support, HLAF aims to empower duty bearers to champion the rights and well-being of children within their respective roles and jurisdictions.

The engagement with BARMM stakeholders for the SIMULA 3 project marks a significant step forward in HLAF’s ongoing efforts to strengthen child advocacy in the region.  

The Class Survivors: 3PDL’s took the first phase to Reintegrated life with the HLAF FRED Program

The 3 former PDL’s start their first phase of reintegration through the post-release Session. In a step towards reintegration, HLAF FRED initiated a groundbreaking program aimed at facilitating the reintegration of three former Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) back into society. The sessions mark the inception of a comprehensive series of six sessions designed to equip the PDL’s – February 2024  

The former PDL’s named themselves “Class Survivors”, this designation reflects their shared resilience and determination to overcome adversity and forge a new path forward. Through this Reintegration Program of HLAF FRED Program, these individuals are empowered to reclaim their identities, rebuild their lives, and contribute positively to their communities. 

The FRED Program session served as a catalyst for self-discovery and reflection, offering participants a platform to explore their aspirations, confront their pasts, and envision a brighter future. Through a series of interactive workshops, counseling sessions, and skill-building activities, the Class Survivors will be encouraged to harness their inner strengths and talents, paving the way for personal growth and development. 

Beyond the program, HLAF fosters a supportive environment where individuals can heal from past traumas, forge meaningful connections with peers, and access essential resources and services to facilitate their reintegration process. By nurturing a sense of belonging and empowerment, HLAF FRED empowers the Class Survivors to rewrite their narratives, break free from cycles of recidivism, and embrace a newfound sense of hope and purpose. 

As the Class Survivors embark on this journey, they will serve as beacons of resilience and inspiration, challenging societal perceptions and advocating for second chances. With each session, they will take bold strides towards reclaiming their dignity, rebuilding their lives, and shaping a brighter tomorrow for themselves and their communities.

Through the unwavering support of the HLAF FRED Program and their own unwavering determination, the Class Survivors stand poised to turn their dreams of redemption into reality, proving that with perseverance and compassion, every individual has the power to rewrite their story and find redemption. 

DLSU-D Interns Join the Women’s Month Celebration with HLAF

HLAF is continuing to promote Womens right, justice, and Women empowerment. During Women’s Month. Along with DLSU-D interns, HLAF conducted Focused Group Discussions (FGD) at different city jails in the Philippines, Jail Visitation, and Podcast about Women Empowerment.  

Women In Conflict with Law (WICLs) from different jails actively participated in a series of questions addressing various aspects of their experiences, from their initial arrest to their accommodation in both Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) dormitories, access to healthcare, family and lawyer visitations, and available programs from either facility. Every meeting is inclusive, which provides a secure space where women PDLs can openly express their experiences and opinion without discrimination, fear, or shame. These focused group discussions (FGDs) also serve as a platform for HLAF to inform PDLs about their rights and offer legal advice. Women PDLs are not only encouraged to voice their experiences but are also assured that their voices are equally heard and valued. 

DLSU-D Interns join HLAF for a jail visitation at Manila City Jail Female Dormitory. The interns were able to be a part of: The Paralegal Aide Training Graduation Ceremony was held for the select Women PDL’s who completed their training and were deemed fit to become guides for their fellow PDL’s towards a hopeful future of freedom with the accompaniment of BJMP Paralegal JNOR JO1 Chervin Loewe Navilla and City Jail Warden JSUPT Marizen S Sese. Interns also talked with some of the jail personnel about the situation of women inside the Manila City Jail. Interns also gain insights through Focused Group Discussion on the experiences of WICL.

Warden JSUPT Marizen S. Sese expressed her appreciation for HLAF. “On behalf of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), I extend our heartfelt appreciation to HLAF for their continuous assistance, particularly in conducting Paralegal Training programs. These initiatives have significantly contributed to the empowerment and welfare of our PDLs, as well as our personnel. Having paralegal aides in every jail facility is a big help on legal matter concerning the cases of our PDLs lalo na sa mga PDLs natin na walang pamilya o kamag-anak na nag-aasikaso ng kanilang mga kaso napakalaking bagay ang ginagampanan ng ating mga paralegai aides.”

Podcast Series for Women’s Month Launched by DLSU-D Interns. An enlightening podcast series, “Laya’t Lakas: Women’s Path to Liberation,” celebrates Women’s Month with insightful discussions and inspiring speakers hosted by DLSU-D Interns. The first part of the podcast focuses on the critical importance of legal rights awareness, the unique challenges women face in legal settings, and strategies for empowerment. The second part highlights the indispensable role of healthcare for women and discusses women’s rights, bringing the podcast series to a compelling conclusion.

Through this Women’s Month, HLAF will continue to promote and honor the value of women and their indisputable right to equality. 

Breaking Barriers, Transforming Lives: 2023 HLAF Accomplishments

HLAF’s accomplishment in 2023 showcased efforts to challenge societal barriers and transform the lives of its beneficiaries. It highlights the advocacies for forwarding inclusive policies, equal rights, and access to justice, emphasizing the transformative effect on individuals, families, and different communities.

HLAF facilitated the release of 882 Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) all over the Philippines together with interns and volunteers. 1,407 Case Consultations and follow-ups were provided to PDLs. Because of the unending support of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, HLAF’s case consultations and follow-up offered individualized support tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of each PDL, fostering trust, providing assistance, and promoting hope for those who may have lost it.

PDLs gained a better understanding of their legal situation, procedural rights, and potential pathways for legal recourse. Throughout the years, HLAF has proved that highlighting systemic issues within the legal system affecting PDLs potentially led to advocacy for broader legal reforms and improvements.

HLAF’s expertise has helped in developing and implementing strategies to alleviate overcrowding in jail facilities and bahay pag-asas ensuring better living conditions and access to essential services for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), children in conflict with the law, and those at risk.

HLAF advocated for policy reforms that address systemic issues affecting PDL and former inmates, leading to improved conditions and rights protection. HLAF developed and provided evidence-based interventions that address the challenges faced by PDL and former inmates.

HLAF capacitated persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and equipped them with essential legal knowledge, enabling them to understand their rights, navigate legal processes, and advocate for themselves within the justice system. The training increased PDLs’ access to legal assistance and representation, improving their ability to defend their rights and seek legal remedies. Trained PDLs served as advocates and sources of support for their fellow detainees, contributing to a more equitable and informed environment inside jails.

There were 264 children whose rights, welfare, and well-being were promoted, forwarded, and protected because of the capacity training programs to more than 2,300 government employees, jail officers, local child protection officers, barangay officials, and other groups on different topics such as Human Rights, Juvenile Justice, and Restorative Justice which promoted values, beliefs, and attitudes that encouraged them and their beneficiaries, especially those most vulnerable people to uphold their rights and those of other individuals.

HLAF’s structured visits involve organizing a planned and systematic visit for the duty-bearers (such as government officials, policymakers, or donors) to interact with individuals or communities who have benefitted from HLAF’s programs and activities.

HLAF facilitated open discussions between the duty bearers being capacitated and successful beneficiaries, focusing on the challenges and achievements in accessing justice, promoting human rights, and forwarding inclusive policies for children.

HLAF collaborated with different provinces to help establish local justice zone coordinating councils toward promoting better quality of access to justice especially for those remote or marginalized communities.

Moreover, HLAF facilitated discussions and encouraged community involvement in the administration of justice, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility in addressing local legal issues. Throughout the years, HLAF’s presence in the Local Justice Zones contributed to strengthening the rule of law at the grassroots level, promoting accountability, transparency, and fairness in resolving legal matters.

HLAF’s national conference enhanced the knowledge and skills of Social Workers and Criminologists but also fostered a progressive perspective, encouraging more responsive, sensitive, adaptive, and inclusive intervention programs for individuals in contact with the Criminal Justice System. Social Workers and Criminologists are equipped to comprehend and articulate the circumstances of children, particularly those in contact with the justice system.

There were 26 successfully reintegrated former persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) back into the community. HLAF supported persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and former inmates in transitioning back into society, helping them rebuild their lives, find employment opportunities, and access essential support services.

HLAF fostered community engagement and created pathways for PDL and former inmates to receive support from local organizations and community members as they reintegrate. HLAF helped reduce recidivism rates by providing PDL and former inmates with the necessary support and resources for a successful return to their communities.

HLAF facilitated dialogues and collaboration between duty bearers, correctional facilities, and community organizations to fill gaps in support services and reintegration programs.

HLAF helped raise community awareness about reintegration programs, leading to increased acceptance and understanding of the challenges faced by PDL and former inmates alike. It has contributed to the development of supportive policies and programs tailored to the specific reintegration needs of these groups of people.

HLAF’s reintegration training has provided duty-bearers with a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by PDL and former inmates, such as social stigma, limited access to employment, and the need for community support.

HLAF equipped duty-bearers with skills and knowledge to identify and address specific challenges, such as barriers to housing, employment, and social reintegration.

Breaking Barriers, Transforming Lives: 2023 Focused Reintegration of Ex-Detainees Accomplishments

HLAF’s accomplishment in 2023 showcased efforts to challenge societal barriers and transform the lives of its beneficiaries. It highlights the advocacies for forwarding inclusive policies, equal rights, and access to justice, emphasizing the transformative effect on individuals, families, and different communities.

There were 26 successfully reintegrated former persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) back into the community. HLAF supported persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and former inmates in transitioning back into society, helping them rebuild their lives, find employment opportunities, and access essential support services.

HLAF fostered community engagement and created pathways for PDL and former inmates to receive support from local organizations and community members as they reintegrate. HLAF helped reduce recidivism rates by providing PDL and former inmates with the necessary support and resources for a successful return to their communities.

PDL Reintegration Programs are being established in localities

HLAF facilitated dialogues and collaboration between duty bearers, correctional facilities, and community organizations to fill gaps in support services and reintegration programs.

HLAF helped raise community awareness about reintegration programs, leading to increased acceptance and understanding of the challenges faced by PDL and former inmates alike. It has contributed to the development of supportive policies and programs tailored to the specific reintegration needs of these groups of people.

Reintegration Trainings were provided to Duty-Bearers to address former inmates’ needs

HLAF’s reintegration training has provided duty-bearers with a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by PDL and former inmates, such as social stigma, limited access to employment, and the need for community support.

HLAF equipped duty-bearers with skills and knowledge to identify and address specific challenges, such as barriers to housing, employment, and social reintegration.

Breaking Barriers, Transforming Lives: 2023 Center for Restorative Action Accomplishments

HLAF’s accomplishment in 2023 showcased efforts to challenge societal barriers and transform the lives of its beneficiaries. It highlights the advocacies for forwarding inclusive policies, equal rights, and access to justice, emphasizing the transformative effect on individuals, families, and different communities.

There were 264 children whose rights, welfare, and well-being were promoted, forwarded, and protected because of the capacity training programs to more than 2,300 government employees, jail officers, local child protection officers, barangay officials, and other groups on different topics such as Human Rights, Juvenile Justice, and Restorative Justice which promoted values, beliefs, and attitudes that encouraged them and their beneficiaries, especially those most vulnerable people to uphold their rights and those of other individuals.

Structured Learning Visits to Duty-Bearers were facilitated

HLAF’s structured visits involve organizing a planned and systematic visit for the duty-bearers (such as government officials, policymakers, or donors) to interact with individuals or communities who have benefitted from HLAF’s programs and activities.

HLAF facilitated open discussions between the duty bearers being capacitated and successful beneficiaries, focusing on the challenges and achievements in accessing justice, promoting human rights, and forwarding inclusive policies for children.

Local Justice Zones were organized to promote access to justice

HLAF collaborated with different provinces to help establish local justice zone coordinating councils toward promoting better quality of access to justice especially for those remote or marginalized communities.

Moreover, HLAF facilitated discussions and encouraged community involvement in the administration of justice, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility in addressing local legal issues.

Throughout the years, HLAF’s presence in the Local Justice Zones contributed to strengthening the rule of law at the grassroots level, promoting accountability, transparency, and fairness in resolving legal matters.

A National Conference of Social Workers and Criminologists is conducted

HLAF’s national conference enhanced the knowledge and skills of Social Workers and Criminologists but also fostered a progressive perspective, encouraging more responsive, sensitive, adaptive, and inclusive intervention programs for individuals in contact with the Criminal Justice System.

Social Workers and Criminologists are equipped to comprehend and articulate the circumstances of children, particularly those in contact with the justice system.

Breaking Barriers, Transforming Lives: 2023 Jail Decongestion Accomplishments

HLAF’s accomplishment in 2023 showcased efforts to challenge societal barriers and transform the lives of its beneficiaries. It highlights the advocacies for forwarding inclusive policies, equal rights, and access to justice, emphasizing the transformative effect on individuals, families, and different communities.

There were 882 Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) released all over the Philippines together with interns and volunteers. 1,407 Case Consultations and follow-ups were provided to PDLs. Because of the unending support of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, HLAF’s case consultations and follow-up offered individualized support tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of each PDL, fostering trust, providing assistance, and promoting hope for those who may have lost it.

PDLs gained a better understanding of their legal situation, procedural rights, and potential pathways for legal recourse. Throughout the years, HLAF has proved that highlighting systemic issues within the legal system affecting PDLs potentially led to advocacy for broader legal reforms and improvements.

HLAF’s expertise is sought by the National Government to address jail congestion and reintegration

HLAF’s expertise has helped in developing and implementing strategies to alleviate overcrowding in jail facilities, ensuring better living conditions and access to essential services for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).

HLAF advocated for policy reforms that address systemic issues affecting PDL and former inmates, leading to improved conditions and rights protection.

HLAF developed and provided evidence-based interventions that address the challenges faced by PDL and former inmates.

Persons Deprived of Liberty were empowered in Paralegal Training

HLAF’s trained persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) were equipped with essential legal knowledge, enabling them to understand their rights, navigate legal processes, and advocate for themselves within the justice system.

The training increased PDLs’ access to legal assistance and representation, improving their ability to defend their rights and seek legal remedies. Trained PDLs served as advocates and sources of support for their fellow detainees, contributing to a more equitable and informed environment inside jails.

Kaalaman, Karunungan, at Karapatan – An Online Symposium conducted with Ateneo Law School

Over 60 jails and 1,000 PDLs attended the Kaalaman, Karunungan, at Karapatan, an online human rights symposium in partnership with the Ateneo Law School Clinical Legal Education Program, on January 9, 2024.

Clinical Legal Education Program (CLEP) law students from Ateneo Law School conducted an online symposium entitled “Kaalaman, Karunungan, atKarapatan” which allowed persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to know and understand different topics such as the Safe Spaces Act and the Good Conduct Time Allowance.

CLEP law students said “As human beings or individuals part of the society, regardless of our status in life, it is important to know and learn about the rights that are inherent in us. As students of the law, we want to serve the people by fighting for their rights and to fight against injustice in our society”.

“We believe that holding this symposium will be very useful and essential for those who are deprived of their liberty and separated from society. By allowing them to know and understand the law as well as to learn more from the lessons imparted to us by our guest speakers, this symposium will be impactful for persons deprived of liberty and even the jail officers who are maintaining, operating, protecting the people behind bars and ensuring their safety”.

HLAF provides an experiential learning opportunity for the Ateneo CLEP law students. By involving them in facilitating such learning sessions, HLAF is offering them practical exposure to legal advocacy and community engagement. HLAF believes this hands-on experience can significantly enhance their understanding of real-world legal challenges and increase their empathy and understanding of the needs of marginalized communities, thereby shaping them into more compassionate and effective legal practitioners in the future.

Additionally, this initiative promotes access to justice for PDLs. By organizing educational symposiums, HLAF is ensuring that PDLs are informed about their rights under relevant laws and regulations. This knowledge empowers them to make more informed decisions about their legal situation, including understanding the mechanisms that may lead to reduced sentences or improved conditions inside correctional facilities.

Furthermore, it helps in fostering a more inclusive and just legal system. By engaging with PDLs and educating them about their rights, HLAF and the participating law students contribute to mitigating the information gap and ensuring that the legal system is accessible to all, regardless of their current circumstances.

HLAF, and the Ateneo CLEP, in this collaborative learning initiative, benefit both the PDLs and the law students, building a more informed community and nurturing the next generation of legal professionals with a strong sense of social responsibility and commitment to justice.