Police bats for ‘diskarte,’ merry go round chase vs. kids in conflict with law

Nov. 10, 2012

For Davao police chief Dela Rosa, “diskarte na lang.”  Loosely translated, this means that officers design creative ways to deal with the different situations especially if they involve minors and children.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines —  “Dakpon karon, ikulong; taud-taud, buhian.  Pagka-ugma madakpan na pud ug ikulong; taud-datud buhian” (We arrest them now, and detain them; afterwards, we release them.  The next day, we arrest them again and detain them again; then we release them again).

This was how Davao City Police (DCPO) chief Police Senior Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa described the route that the police had to undergo on a regular basis when it came to dealing with minors involved in gangs and gang wars, or in legal term, children in conflict with law (CICL).

During the regular press briefing at the city hall here on Thursday, Dela Rosa said the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or Republic Act (RA) 9344 makes it hard for law enforcers to do their job.  Under the law, children or those under 18 years of age are not held liable for any crime and if accosted by police authorities, they are to be turned over to the government’s social workers for rehabilitation.

Galisud ta tungod ana nga balaud (We encounter difficulties because of that law),” he lamented.  However, he said police officers have found ways not to violate RA 9344 without neglecting their duties in the community.

The PNP has long pushed for the amendment of RA 9344, with Chief Director Nicanor Bartolome reportedly saying that the law is not responding to the increasing number of young violators.

Children advocates have slammed proposals under House Bill 6052 to amend the RA 9344 which will lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old.

Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council secretariat executive director lawyer Tricia Clare Oco was quoted in a newsreport as saying “(L)owering the minimum age of criminal responsibility is turning our backs on our duty of rehabilitating our youth and preventing them from committing crimes.  The hard fact and research-backed truth is that lowering the minimum age of criminal liability will not lower crime rates.

She added that “RA9344 is not just about penalties and not easily about punishments for children who are in conflict with the law, that’s just too easy and convenient.  RA9344, more importantly, is about building homes and schools for our children, building dreams and aspirations, paving the path for a better future.”

For Davao police chief Dela Rosa, “diskarte na lang.”  Loosely translated, this means that officers design creative ways to deal with the different situations especially if they involve minors and children.

“Tungod sa kadako sa Davao City, we asked the barangay leaders apil na ang mga barangay police nga i-address ning mga poblema sa mga gang (Considering the size of Davao City, we asked village leaders and members of the village police to address the problems of gangs),” he told reporters.

Dela Rosa revealed that gang members are armed.  He said that DCPO is ready to respond to barangays if they call for assistance.

For her part, children’s division chief Grace Frias of the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) said the local government is addressing the problems involving minors.  She said there is an existing residential facility, treatment and rehabilitation center and a scholarship grant that can be availed as part of intervention programs for street children, gang members and those in conflict with law.

Frias said the problem with gangs is when they turn to anti-social activities and pose real threat and danger to the other members of the society.  She added CICLs below 15 years old and acting without discernment will undergo intervention program.  However, those above 15 but below 18 years old and acting with discernment will pass through diversion proceedings.

Frias also informed the media of the problems they encounter in barangay levels because of the absence of mechanisms to deal with CICLs.  “The mechanism is not yet in place,” she admitted but said that, at their level, interventions are already taking place to assist CICLs.

Frias reported that there are 50 CICLs that are presently under their care at the treatment and rehabilitation center.  She said many are into drugs or are addicted to rugby, an aromatic kind of contact glue.

She added that there are also a number of children who have availed of the scholarship programs.  She admits that some drop out of school and return to the streets.

“This is the reason why the city government also hired street educators and 11 CSSDO satellite workers assigned in the barangays,” Frias disclosed.  She added that they are working in coordination with the police and are tasked to monitor the movements of the street children especially during nighttime. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)

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