Feature: Tough push for 1st search for child-friendly police station
By Jean Duron-Abangan
Davao City (4 December) -- Making the police child-friendly is quite tough just as tough as pushing through the Search for the Most Child Friendly Police Station.
But the Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) in the Davao Region has made it. It has just been through such trailblazing project tagged as the first of such kind in the country.
On November 30, 2010, RSCWC chairperson Ester Acebedo-Versoza of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), handed over to Police Station chief, PInsp. Ronald Lao, the distinct recognition for Sta. Ana Police Station as the first Most Child-Friendly Police Station awardee.
Picking a three-star rating, it garnered 164 points, closely trailed by Toril Police Station which got two-star rating for its 159 total points.
Securing residents at Davao City's periphery bounded with North Cotabato and Bukidnon, Marilog Police Station landed third, picking one star for the 140 total points it garnered.
The three bested nine other police stations, vying for the Search that was pilot-tested in Davao City before it would be run in the entire region by next year, covering provincial and municipal police stations.
Barging into walls
In narrating the history of the Search, Department of Health RSCWC- technical working group (TWG) representative Anna Remolar described the quest to make police stations child-friendly, as "barging into the solid walls of the usual, routine practices."
"Aside from breaking the attitude of authorities, police stations then had generally hostile environment for children in conflict with the law (CICL), and insensitive for children in need of special protection (CNSP)," she said.
Giving a picture of police stations then, she said there was no holding room, no separate investigation room, no playroom, no toilet for children.
"With a heavy heart due to a violation committed, a child offender got even more confused and traumatized when put into jail, mixed with adult suspect," she said.
Fired by the desire to rescue children from such depressing situation, then Police Regional Director Isidro Lapena hatched the idea of conducting a search for the child-friendly police stations.
With the go-signal of Lapena, Senior Police Officer Rosario Suarez took a bold step on May 5, 2004 when she presented the idea of conducting the search to the Police Regional Office (PRO) XI Council of Elders.
In September 2004, Suarez then brought the idea before the RSCWC-TWG members who immediately drew up the Search criteria which was then presented before the Regional Directors' Meeting on October 28, 2004.
Appreciating the nobility of the idea, the Regional Directors of RSCWC member agencies, right there and then, passed a resolution endorsing the Search to the Social Development Council (SDC) XI, for adoption.
Efforts to push through the Search lived on, while support of the Regional Development Council was being worked out.
The Search Guidelines and Mechanics were drawn up by the RSCWC in February 2005 followed by the conduct of a public consultation inviting representatives from non-government organizations, government organizations, police officers and supervisors, and child representatives.
Right after the consultation, the Search Guidelines was finalized and the Search Tools were drawn up. They were then presented in April 2005 in a command conference with PNP Regional Director Simeon Dizon before they were shown to PRO XI Council of Community Elders.
The long toil to realize the Search came into fruition when it was formally launched in May 2005 at the Ugnayan sa Royal Mandaya, a media forum organized by the Philippine Information Agency XI.
Gracing the occasion were then Council for the Welfare of Children Secretary Lina Laigo and then UNICEF Local Policy and Institutional Development (LPID) Mindanao Coordinator Willy Nuqui.
RSCWC-TWG then conducted an advocacy cum orientation of the Search, bringing in the participation of all chiefs of police and TWG members of the Provincial Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC).
The year 2005 yielded so much positive gains for the Search preparation. Among which were the Regional Development Council resolutions enjoining all local government units to participate in the Search; enjoining all LGUs to establish separate detention rooms for CICL; enjoining all LGUs and other stakeholders to support campaign of PNP-XI against pornography.
The TWG then pilot-tested the Search evaluation tools at Sta. Ana Police Station and San Pedro Police Station, both of which were known to have handled majority of children's cases in the city.
Just as preparations had wrapped up for completion, a hiatus for almost four years, nearly put off the realization of the Search.
The final push
But in early 2010, DSWD Regional Director Versoza together with PRO XI regional director PSupt Pedro U. Tango, picked up the pieces of noble accomplishments left off in 2006.
Upon their go-signal, the RSCWC-TWG together with PRO XI and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) XI lined up activities to finally push through the Search. The first of which was the conduct of an orientation seminar among chiefs of police in Davao City.
The Search was then re-launched at the Kapehan sa Dabaw with DSWD Director Versoza together with representatives from NAPOLCOM, DILG and PNP.
Taking its final move, the RSCWC then sent out the TWG members in four teams to conduct the actual assessment and evaluation on two periods: on November 4 and 5 and on November 8 and 9, 2010.
Members of the evaluating teams came from the regional offices of the departments of labor, health, education, interior and local government, justice; NEDA, PNP, PIA, CHR, among other member agencies of RSCWC.
Remolar assured the public that the results were born out of "honest-to-goodness" evaluation of entries, founded on "enduring passion for children" of the RSCWC XI. (PIA XI/RSCWCXI) [top]