BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RDC) in the Cordillera approved a resolution urging all municipal local government units in the region to hire additional licensed social workers to attend to the high number of cases of children-at-risk and children-in-conflict with the law in the different parts of the region.
The resolution which was passed by both bodies chaired by Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan stated that the crafting and formulation of the proposal emanated from the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council in 2017 and was approved during the Regional Social Development Council (RSDC) second quarter meeting on May 18, 2018 with the presence of youth representatives.
Republic Act (RA) 10630 which strengthened the Juvenile Justice in the Philippines amended for the purpose RA 9344, otherwise known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, created the Cordillera Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (RJJWC) to, among others, formulate and recommend policies and strategies for the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the administration of Juvenile Justice System.
The Cordillera RJJWC reported 1,054 cases involving 640 children-at-risk and 414 children-in-conflict with the law in 2017 and a total of 848 cases involving children from both from the marginalized sectors in 2016 with some municipalities having as much as 18 cases per month.
The resolution noted that the average number of municipalities with licensed social workers in the region is 2 per municipality with 4 municipalities, particularly in Boliney, Lacub, Lagayan and San Isidro, all in Abra, having no licensed social worker, while in other regions have average number of 3 to 4 licensed social workers per municipality.
While there is no standard case of load ratio of social workers per population, the resolution added the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program prescribed 1 social worker for every 500 population and the current ratio in the Cordillera Administrative Region is 1:8,533.
Aside from attending to children-at-risk and children-in-conflict with the law cases, the resolution stipulated that the region’s 233 social workers currently employed at the provincial, city, and municipal levels attend to the implementation and supervision of the Early Childhood Care and Development Program which includes the provision of parenting effectiveness, service and pre-marriage counselling; provide services to the various sectors which include the senior citizens, persons with disabilities, women, children, youth and family and community; perform crucial roles as members of secretariat of mandated local structures such as Local Council for the Protection of Children, Local Council Against Trafficking and Violence Against Women and their Children, Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Local School Boards and Local Health Boards and handle other court-related cases such as child abuse, violence against women and their children, legal separation, adoption, foster care and legal guardianship.
Section 16 of RA 9344 as amended by RA 10630 provided that all local government units shall appoint a duly licensed social worker as its local welfare and development officer tasked to assist children-at-risk and children-in-conflict with the law pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations. By Dexter A. See