COA: Shelter program for children in conflict with the law neglected

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    IMPLEMENTATIO of the Bahay Pag-Asa project aimed to help troubled minors have been neglected under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Commission on Audit said.

    In its 2018 audit of the JJWC, the COA said P40 million congressional allocation for the project in 2018 had to be reverted back to the National Treasury.

    “The Bahay Pag-Asa Project for FY 2018 was not implemented due to delayed implementation and liquidation by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) …and non-compliance by local government units (LGUs) with the requirements of the project, causing the reversion of cash,” the audit team said.

    Bahay-Pag-Asa is a 24-hour child caring institution run by a city or municipal government with the help of two DSWD-licensed or accredited non-government institutions. It is envisioned to provide short-term care for children in conflict with the law (CICL) aged between 15 and 18 years while awaiting court disposition of their cases.

    The program intends to provide intensive intervention to CICL who are facing serious offenses or have committed an offense at least twice but who may not yet be held criminally liable for being minors.

    The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344) provided an appropriation totaling P400 million from the construction of Bahay Pag-Asa rehabilitation centers in provinces and cities with high incidence of CICL.

    For 2016 and 2017, the JJWC transferred P40.05 million to the DPWH to construct Bahay Pag-ASA in designated areas including P1.5 million for the administrative cost.

    Of the said amount, the DPWH distributed P23 million to its district engineering offices but as of December 31, 2018 only the public bidding has been undertaken for Caloocan City (P3 million) and Ifugao First District Engineering Office (P5 million).

    Cebu province which received P5 million had construction already underway but the project was divided into two phases to utilize counterpart funds separately.

    Zamboanga City and Puerto Princesa City both of which got P5 million, reported that the public bidding is Still being processed.

    Under the 2018 national budget, JJWC received P120 million for the program however, only P40 million was released while the balance of P80 million was requested for deferment.

    The JJWC likewise refused to transfer additional funds to the DPWH pending issuance of a certification by the accountant that funds previously transferred have not been liquidated.

    COA said the JJWC management has agreed to implement the recommendations of the audit team to strengthen coordination with the DPWH to speed up project implementation within the set timeline.