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Govt’s CRADLE for child offenders

December 20, 2007 ·  By Jonathan M. Hicap Reporter

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Thursday, December 20, 2007
By Jonathan M. Hicap Reporter

Jay (not his real name) considered the streets of Muntinlupa as his home. He and his friends roamed the streets day and night, begging for money to buy food and sniffing rugby to get high.

Then his addiction shot out of control and he began to steal. After several successful jobs, he ran out of luck and got busted by the police and was thrown in jail.

Today, Jay spends his time in the Center for Restorative Activities Development and Learning Experiences (CRADLE) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig, a new jail facility for children in conflict with the law (CICL).

CRADLE is home to 108 child offenders from most parts of Metro Manila except from Manila, Quezon City and Pasay which have their own child centers. It is being run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

The facility was originally intended for detainees under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

It was converted into CRADLE when Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, was passed. The law calls for the separation of child offenders from adult inmates.

According to Catherine Nanola, officer in charge of rehabilitation, CRADLE, following the international standard, defines a child as a person who is 18 years old or younger.

Of the 108 offenders, 69 have been committed to the facility for crimes against property, 14 for crimes against persons, five for drug related charges, 10 for crimes in special laws like carnapping, and 10 for crimes against chastity.

One in mate is 15 years old, 20 are older than 15 butnot yet 16, 80 are between 16 to 17 years old and seven are 18 years old.

Nanola said CRADLE can accommodate 800 children. Today, the child offenders occupy 10 dorms.

Everyday, the children have a routine to follow. It starts with making up their beds and cleaning their dorm, then having breakfast. The rest of the day is devoted to attending classes under the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education and some exercise. CRADLE has a basketball court for recreation.

Six social workers are in charge of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation involves care management, coun­seling, coordination with the courts and with local governments.

Five non-government organizations are now conducting in-house programs for the children. They are Advocates for Children and Elderly International, Ligaya ng Panginoon, Couples for Christ, Anawin International and Values Formation Organization.

Each of these has adopted a dorm to conduct values training and skills training (like simple electricity and candle making). This Christmas, the NGOs will have Christmas parties with the children. Nanola said the children will not be alone this Christmas as their families will visit them. The jail warden, Amelia Talento, has allowed families to visit their children on Christmas day.

Nanola said the number of children in the facility is constantly being reduced by judges who issue court orders to commit a child to their families or to other youth centers. END

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