Quezon City Mayor discusses Prison Conditions with HLAF

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista and Gian Miko Arabejo

Quezon City, Philippines- To bring the issues of prison condition and reintegration of ex-detainees in Quezon City, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF), represented by HLAF’s Executive Director, Atty. Rommel Alim Abitria and HLAF’s Program Officer, Atty. Kristoffer Claudio, together with HLAF interns, made a courtesy call to the Quezon City Mayor, Hon. Herbert Bautista, at the Office of the Mayor last July 7.

A Meeting with Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III

Written by Atty. Kristoffer Claudio

On August 11, 2016, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF) held a meeting with Cebu City Governor Hilario Davide III to discuss key details for the furtherance and improvement of the Jail Decongestion Program.

            One of the few important projects mentioned is the Criminal Justice Summit to be participated by the executive judges, judges of drug courts, Public Attorney’s Office, Philippine National Police, and the Local Government Units. This aims to be a medium to initiate dialogues between the different government sectors and tackle prevalent issues such as drugs, jail decongestion, and Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL), among others.

            Furthermore, the meeting focused on the replication of the Jail Decongestion Program introduced by HLAF in the detention centers of Mandaue and now, Lapu-lapu City. Governor Davide moved to strengthen the program and apply it to bigger detention facilities such as the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilition Center housing over 3,000 detainees.

            Also, while jail decongestion is the focus of the meeting, HLAF also proposed the institution of reintegration programs for former detainees through local legislations. The foundation emphasizes that there is also a growing concern of rebuilding their lives and with a heavier responsibility of preventing them to once again go astray.

            The meeting also tackled issues involving the government’s infamous fight against drugs.  Both the Cebu Governor and HLAF agreed to further the plan to establish a Cebu Anti-Drug Office to coordinate Drug Abuse Councils to be activated in municipalities and barangays. The prime objective of which is to mitigate drug-related activities in the province.


             Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation also had a meeting with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of Cebu for matters involving the creation of a Center for Restorative Justice for CICLs. A discussion was also made regarding municipal and barangay social workers’ training in preparation for the establishment of a Women and Children Crisis Center and Bahay Pag-asa. They also agreed on the paramount importance of family involvement on the reintegration of CICLs. 

HLAF participates in the training of trainers on human rights promotion and protection

Written by Kio Jerome dela Peña

In partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, the Commission on Human Rights, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Alternative Law Groups Inc. (ALG) launched their 3rd community-based dialogue sessions on human rights promotion and protection with civil society organizations and local communities last October 3-7 at the Labreza Hotel, Mother Ignacia St., Quezon City.

The said sessions were organized in order to continue the endeavor in promoting human rights and raising awareness against human rights violation in the Philippines through training of trainers seminar/workshop of activities that equipped advocates of human rights with necessary knowledge regarding the said topic. The Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF), represented by HLAF Community Organizer, Mr. Kio dela Peña, was one of the organizations and individuals that attended the training.

The topics discussed were the universal declaration of human rights, human rights programs of the AFP mainly the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, selected laws on anti-torture, anti-enforced disappearance, and international humanitarian law. The training also allowed the participants to prepare and conduct demo teaching and use different methods of popular education on the last day of the training.

The groups chose their representatives to discuss each of the discussions that were presented the past three days. Groups eventually pulled through the sessions and used various kinds of popular education techniques. The fourth day ended with comments from the organizers, and tips that will improve the quality of the seminars or trainings the participants might hold from now on.

According to Mr. dela Peña, the training provided a lot of information and skills that will be beneficial in the organization’s re-echoing of the topics in the trainings of its staff and to other advocates of human rights. It is a big step in promoting human rights both on the national and international scene and the training provided equipped other human rights advocate with a medium to promote, disseminate, and protect human rights.





Implementers gather to provide inputs to strengthen the juvenile justice law; holds Juvenile Justice Implementers Congress

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista


Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act advocates and implementers seek to create an action plan to strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act as they held the 2017 Juvenile Justice Implementers Congress on Hotel Rembrant, Quezon City last June 1 and 2.


This year’s congress is the 4th year commencement of the Juvenile Justice Congress. The congress aims to share experiences, learn good practices, discuss prevailing issues and challenges, and plan for response and advocacy on the full implementation of JJWA.


A total of 140 participants consisting of judges, prosecutors, PAO lawyers, councilors, barangay officials, NGO representatives, department heads, law enforcers, and other government agencies such as BuCor, DILG, DSWD, RJJWC, DOJ and Parole and Probation office attended the congress.


…to provide better future for our children-at-risk and children-in-conflict-with-law is not an easy task. … we need to work together to face this daunting task and build on each other’s success and experiences… so we always need to be updated, we need to continuously talk about how we can forward children’s rights…Atty. Rommel Alim Abitria said about continuously conducting the Juvenile Justice Implementers Congress.


In the two-day congress, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Comm. Leah Tandora-Armamento and Rep. Henry Oaminal graced the event by giving special messages directed to the juvenile justice implementers and advocates.




“None of our children were born bad, none came to this world as a child offender. But in life, they cannot do it alone. Every child needs a champion. It could be their mother or father, a friend or a teacher, a barangay official or a social worker -- someone who will see their foolishness and mistakes, and yes, perhaps even violations of law but not give up on them.” Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said in his keynote address delivered in the congress.


“…we would like to inspire and to be inspired. This is for us, to rekindle hope.” Comm. Leah Tanodra-Armamento said as she tackled how the lawmakers scrapped the lowering of criminal liability to nine years old and eyed to properly implement JJWA. 


Also, the participants of the congress are aware of the decision not to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility as discussed in the special message delivered by Hon. Rep. Oaminal. 


Next steps

In the light of how the lawmakers kept 15 years old as the age of criminal liability, the participants discussed the different components on how to properly implement the law, including services for the marginalized children - the children-at-risk and children in conflict with the law. The action to fully implement JJWA is supported by Sen. Risa Hontiveros as stated in her special message delivered during the congress.


The output from the components will be the basis for the future steps of the implementers and advocates to properly implement JJWA.


“We are very happy that a lot of stakeholders, especially Civil Society Organizations, responded to the invitation to come together in this congress to discuss the emerging issues on juvenile justice. I think it is a manifestation of support to the call of Philippine Congress to strengthen the implementation of the JJWA and an appreciation that Congress indeed acted for the best interest of the children when they chose not to lower the MACR.” Atty. Abitria added.

The 2017 Juvenile Justice Implementers Congress was made possible through the partnership of the Commission on Human Rights and the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF).



(Attached are the messages delivered during the 2017 Juvenile Justice Implementers Congress)




Pililia Mayor expresses his interest in partnering with HLAF

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista

PILILLA, Rizal - The Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) representatives visited the Office of the Mayor of Pililla, Rizal to meet with Mayor Dan Masinsin to discuss the components of HLAF’s Center for Restorative Action (CRA) Program’s Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) Training last Aug. 23.

Together with HLAF’s Executive Director, Atty. Rommel Alim Abitria, the Center for Restorative Action Team - Senior Social Worker, Mr. Luis Singgangan, Senior Community Organizer, Ms. Claudette Almadin and Community Organizers, Mr. Kio dela Pena and Ms. Emy Torrefiel, as well as HLAF’s Program Officer, Atty. Kristoffer Claudio discussed with Mayor Masinsin how the CRA Training can capacitate the BCPC to handle cases of children in conflict with the law and children-at-risk. They highlighted that the training will help the barangay be independent and not resort to quickly referring the cases to the Municipality for intervention.

The meeting was also attended by the Mayor's Senior Administrative Assistant, Mr. John Masinsin, Pililia’s ABC President, Hon. Roberto D. Orseno and the MSWDO representative, Ms. Glynis Martinez, as they shared the current status of Pililia’s BCPCs and the process of intervention they were currently practicing. Mayor Masinsin also expressed the Municipality’s desire to have a social worker to manage the CARs and CICLs cases in Pililia.

After the discussion of Atty. Claudio on the CRA Training linked with the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, Mayor Masinsin shared to the group his knowledge on the process of JJWA and the role of duty bearers in implementing it, most especially the parents.  He also mentioned his interest in the CRA Training as it complements the ongoing training and orientation on livelihood program and the current training of MSWDO on Violence against Women and Children in the Municipality.

HLAF looks forward to the partnership with the Municipality of Pililia in giving support to each other’s advocacy on juvenile justice.