Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DSWD sounds alarm over rise in number of minor offenders in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 30 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol regional office has expressed alarm over the rising incidence of juvenile offenders in the region.

Quoting their own studies, Arwin Razo, DSWD assistant regional director for operation, said cases of youth offenders rose to 1,043 cases last year, or 63 percent higher than the 652 cases recorded in 2014.

Razo said among the common crimes that the youth offenders have committed are theft, physical injuries, rape, robbery, alarm and scandal, illegal drug use, and homicide.

Agency reports, he said, attributed the rising cases of minor offenders to dysfunctional families or broken homes, abusive parents and peer pressure.

In Friday's media orientation on the Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (RJJWC), Razo said last year’s record indicate that the incidence was high in Albay, with 405 cases; followed by Naga City, 235; Camarines Sur, 197; Catanduanes, 102; Masbate, 42; Camarines Norte and Sorsogon, 31 each.

The DSWD regional official urged local government executives across Bicol Region to give attention to the problem by developing a 3-5-year Comprehensive Local Juvenile Intervention Program (CLJIP) with corresponding funding.

He said that with the CLJIP in place, it would be a deterrent mechanism on the rising cases of youth offenders, which have reached an alarming level.

The RJJWC also asked the national JJWC to provide funding for the construction of a Bahay Pag-Asa center either in Albay, Camarines Norte or in Naga City.

According to Razo, the construction of a rehabilitation center would involve a cost of PHP10 million, excluding operational expenses.

There are eight Bahay Pag-asa centers across the country.

In Bicol, there is the Regional Rehabilitation for the Youth Center in Sorsogon where 55 youth offenders are undergoing rehabilitation.

The rising trends of minor offenders with ages ranging from 7-18 years old were reported in 2012 to have 92 cases; 2013, 317 cases; 2014, 653; and 2015, with 1,043.

At the first quarter of this year, the DSWD recorded 317 cases.

Razo said that in 2010, they also recorded a case where a child was trained as a combatant by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Camarines Sur.

The child was rescued by government troopers. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD