COTABATO CITY — Bangsamoro Parliament Minority Floor Leader Atty. Laisa Alamia led the groundbreaking ceremony of the first Bahay Pag-asa or a support center in Basilan intended for children in conflict with the law (CICL). 

The construction and establishment of a Bahay Pag-asa, Atty. Alamia said, marks the beginning of a multi-phase project that will strengthen the juvenile justice and welfare system in BARMM.

Said construction of the Bahay Pag-asa is under the Transitional Development Impact Fund (TDIF) project of Atty. Alamia.

Under Republic Act 10630 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, Bahay Pag-asa is a 24-hour caring institution for CICL.

In 2015, the regional office of the DSWD in the Bangsamoro dealt with 72 CICL—36 from Maguindanao, 29 from Sulu, and 7 from Tawi-Tawi. Said data were not disaggregated by demographics such as age, nor by the nature of the alleged offense and the diversionary measure applied.

“Every time we talk about children in conflict with the law, it fills us with deep regret whenever we realize that a 12-year-old has already spent three years in the provincial jail or detention center with adults and was left there with little support or supervision” Alamia shared. 

“Imagine, that child has already lost opportunities to learn and study in school, and he could have been under rehabilitation and recovery while his case was pending,” she added.

Alamia emphasized the state’s role in protecting the rights of children at risk and children in conflict with the law. 

“If we want a child rights-compliant juvenile justice system,” she said, “we need to have proper care and rehabilitation services, and this requires adequate child-friendly rehabilitation facilities with a functioning system that upholds child’s rights across the country.”

“This is what the Bahay Pag-asa is for,” Alamia stressed.

Official data from the Child Rights Network show that of the 114 provinces and HUCs, 58 are operational and only eight have fully complied with the requirements set by the law as of November 2018.

None of these facilities are located in the BARMM.

Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay, represented by City Administrator Ligaya Buenaventura, expressed gratitude to the Office of the Minority Floor Leader, the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), the provincial government of Basilan, and all development partners present in the event. 

“We hope to advance the rights of children at risk and children in conflict with the law,” Buenaventura said, “and with the first-ever Bahay Pag-Asa in BARMM, we can protect them and provide necessary intervention to help them become better members of society.”

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Anwari Akalun echoed the same sentiment in his message. He said they can now “better respond to the needs of children at risk and children in conflict with the law with the Bahay Pag-Asa” and described the groundbreaking event as historical.

With the recent development, Atty. Alamia looks forward to the construction and establishment of a BPA in every province of BARMM. (Publication and Media Relations Division)