Operation Second Chance to shut doors in 2017
DUE to overcapacity, Cebu City will refuse to accept minor offenders from other towns and cities starting January next year in a city-owned rehabilitation facility called Operation Second Chance Center (OSCC).
Mayor Tomas Osmeña sent out letters to mayors and executive judges in at least 13 local government units (LGUs) across the province regarding this decision because the facility was already serving beyond its capacity.
“After 10 years of serving minor offenders from other LGUs, it has now come to a point that the OSCC has to prioritize children from Cebu City,” the mayor said in his letter dated Nov. 3 to Lapu-Lapu City, Talisay City, Mandaue City, Carcar City, Toledo City, Concolacion, Minglanilla, Barili, San Remigio, Badian, Alcantara, Liloan and Cordova; and the LGUs executive judges.
“It is in this light that the Cebu City government would like to seek the understanding of other LGUs as well as the kind consideration of the judges of the Regional Trial Courts (RTC),” Osmeña said.
OSCC will only accept minor offenders from Cebu City.
Due to overcrowding in the city-run rehabilitation facility located in Barangay Kalunasan, 20 wards reportedly got sick due to a viral infection last October.
According to Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) head Lea Japson, the city has already started initial discussions with RTC judges to convince them to stop referring children in conflict with the law (CICLs) to the OSCC.
“We will know by next year and hopefully, this will really be implemented,” she said.
Built to accommodate 100-150 persons, OSCC currently houses at least 210 CICLs with only 100 of them from Cebu City.
The OSCC is said to be the first of its kind in the country established long before the enactment of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Law.
The facility was built to save minor offenders, who were then detained along with hardened criminals at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) from becoming full-fledged criminals themselves.
Since then, the SOCC has accommodated minor offenders from other LGUs outside of Cebu City referred by the courts.
“But while the Cebu City government is doing its best to cope with the situation, it severely lacks social workers, vehicles to transport the minors to their court hearings, food and other supplies. As such, cases from Cebu City which comprise 25% of the number of children at the OSCC can no longer be taken care of adequately,” Osmeña said in his letter.
In a talk with reporters, Osmeña said that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) also planned to stop managing the OSCC which means that the city will take over full management of the facility.
“These judges just assigned them (CICLs) to Cebu City and the BJMP cannot say no to a judge. So now, BJMP is moving out. So now, the city is taking over,” Osmeña said.
For her part, Japson raised concern over BJMP’s plan to pull out their jail guards from the facility.
Japson said that she has asked the BJMP to continue guarding the facility until the city can allocate a budget for the hiring of security personnel.
Japson planned to meet with members of the city council’s committee on budget and finance, headed by Councilor Joy Pesquera, to ask that P5.7 million be added to their proposed P8.7 million budget for the OSCC next year to cover the expense of hiring security personnel and additional social workers.
“We also plan to ask them (the LGUs) to pay. Based on our budget, it needs at least P2,600 to P3,000 per month for one child to stay at the center,” she said of the LGUs that may have nowhere to send their minor offenders to as the city also planned to expand the facility in the coming years.
At present, Mandaue City sends sacks of rice and canned goods to the facility as it has 30 minor offenders confined there, the highest among all other LGUs outside Cebu City.
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