Late last week Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio manifested her intention to come up with a clear policy in dealing with the so-called Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL). The mayor consulted the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the possibility of coming up with an ordinance that would put such policy in order.
According to the mayor the plan is her administration’s manifestation of support for the proposed law lowering the age of criminal liability of the youth from 15 to 12 years old.
From where we are perched we see the move of the mayor as prospective; something that even if the approval of the proposed law will be delayed considering the strong opposition from some sectors in society, the city’s own policy is already in place.
The mayor’s plan for the city to have an ordinance that deals with CICLs is very novel. But we believe that the responsibility of ensuring that today’s children are guided accordingly to become useful members of society as they grow up, is not just that of the government’s. It is also every citizen’s concern. The parents play a primordial role but all other sectors must do their share in this gargantuan effort.
We do not know if this will help. But years back we have this experience of having overseen a corporate effort to provide assistance to the city government in bringing back some of the city’s CICLs to the straight path of life. The intervention was in coordination with the Office of the City Mayor through the Davao City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO), the City Police Office, and a non-government organization (NGO) called Outland Adventure.
Yes, some years back Aboitiz unit Davao Light and Power Co. had this experiential approach in dealing with problems attendant to diverse sectors of the population such as students, workers in different levels in government and private corporate offices, and yes, CICLs. The intervention is both behavioral and devotional.
In that particular activity having some 25 CICLs from the city’s CSSDO-administered facilities were selected and brought to the Outland Adventure Camp along C.P. Garcia Diversion Road. It lasted for three days with each day’s activities following modules specifically tailored for the participants’ profiles. The module was developed by Davao Light through its corporate social responsibility unit, the management of Outland Adventure, a religious denomination-run NGO; the CSSDO, and the city police. Security was also considered to ensure that no CICL participant will abandon the camp. So there was police presence.
During the first two days of the camp the activities were mostly physical and mental exercises using strong teamwork, communication, and camaraderie strategies. There were exercises on the ground and above-ground all intended to conquer individual CICL participant’s fear and anxieties. The last day was focused solely to devotional activities capped with the participation of the children’s parents where prior to their meeting the parents were requested by the camp facilitators to disclose their experience in dealing with their children and the challenges they encountered.
The final activity was the “sugat” or meeting of the parents and their CICLs who just came from an hour trek to a cave in Langub for the last phase of their devotional. During this meeting the children shared their experiences in the 3-day camp and from there expressed to their parents their individual aspirations. Based on this sharing and on the experiences shared by the CICL parents the meeting eventually developed into a strategy setting activity on how the CICLs could be led back to the proper path. The end of the camp was “crying time” for both the CICLs and their parents.
Unfortunately, that batch of the Outland Adventure Camp was only experimental. The main focus of Davao Light for funding support then was the student sector. We were hoping that the local government or some other social foundations and corporate groups pick up the project from there. But no, the output of that batch involving the CICLs was simply forgotten; thrown down the drain of forgetfulness.
Maybe, when the proposal of Mayor Inday is deliberated by the Sangguniang Panlungsod our councilors should look back to that experimental batch of the Davao Light-Outland Adventure Project. Perhaps the councilors could provide continuing budget to fund the implementation of that intervention project for CICLs and other children who are likely to follow the former’s path. For us this kind of intervention would be an effective way of making any ordinance intended to deal with the city’s CICLs sustainable.
Yes, we are looking forward to that possibility.
By Vic Sumalinog