The Cebu Provincial Government allowed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to repurpose their two-story Bahay Pag-asa building into a Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) for female children in conflict with the law, a first in the country.

Secretary Rex Gatchalian and Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia show their signed deed of usufruct during a signing ceremony at the Capitol building on July 3, 2024.

By signing a deed of usufruct, the Cebu Province allows DSWD to use the 2,000-square-meter lot and the two-story building into a residential facility in barangay Inayagan, City of Naga, and to be run and operated by the DSWD Field Office 7.

Republic Act 9344, or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” states that children below 18, found guilty of a crime, shall not be put in a detention facility along with adults but rather in rehabilitation facilities such as the RRCY of DSWD for boys in Argao, Cebu.

Inside the facility, admitted children will seek rehabilitation programs from social workers and developmental partners to prepare them for reintegration as productive members of their community.

The conversion of the Cebu government’s building into an RRCY for girls will provide social welfare services, which include various programs and projects on child and youth welfare and community-based rehabilitation for juvenile offenders.

Atty. Tricia Claire Oco, Executive Director for the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), who stood as witness to the signing of the agreement on July 3, 2024, at the Cebu Capitol, enthused that this partnership between DSWD and Cebu Province is a historic investment for the juvenile justice system in the Philippines.

“We are on the right track in investing our efforts, giving our children a chance to shape their future because Bawat Bata May Pag-asa (Every Child Has a Hope) at Bawat Bata May Pagkakataon (Every Child Has a Chance),” while sharing that this is a realization of their hopes and dreams.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian and Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia signed the deed of usufruct agreement that will allow the Department to use the existing facility for ten years.

According to Governor Garcia, the partnership is a “wish come true” for the provincial government that will bring the opportunity to improve the country’s judicial system for the youth.

Addressing Secretary Gatchalian, Governor Garcia said that the Bahay Pag-asa is just waiting for the right person to lead the Department. “A secretary mindful of the role of DSWD, not just in handing out financial assistance but also in developing those that needed help,” she added.

During the press conference after the signing, Secretary Gatchalian assured the governor that the Department would find ways to gather funds to make the facility operational within the year since there is no existing budget allocation yet. ###

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