MANILA (DWDD) – Music is known to have therapeutic effects, aiding in a person’s healing and in the promotion of improved and more positive health.
Miko is a Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL) and a resident of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. He can attest to the healing power of music. RRCY serves CICL who are nine years old to below 18 years old. DSWD has 14 RRCYs nationwide.
According to Miko, music has played a big part in his life, especially during its darkest moments.
“I express my suppressed feelings and emotions through music. I compose lyrics of songs based on what I feel, think, and have experienced in the past. Music helped me recover from my dark past,” he shared.
Miko was only 17 years old when he was transferred to RRCY in Guimaras. He comes from a broken family; his parents separated when he was still a child, each has a new family. His two half siblings from his mother are presently covered by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a poverty alleviation program of the DSWD.
Music has been Miko’s source of strength since he transferred to RRCY. He considers it a medium through which he can express all of his emotions, including the loneliness, pain, and regret that he felt for what he went through. He composed songs about his life, with his family as his inspiration.
With the encouragement of his fellow residents and RRCY houseparents, Miko joined the center’s band and eventually became one of the vocalists of the group. He was able to compose two songs for the band, including “Sana Dito Ka Lang” and “Break Up,” which he and his bandmates usually play whenever there’s an important occasion inside the rehabilitation center. Both of these songs are dedicated to his family.
“I dedicate the songs I wrote to my family. I long for them so badly. I wish I could be reunited with them,” Miko said.
Miko’s longing for his parents and siblings is being filled up by RRCY staff who serve as house parents to him and to other youth residents in the center. Miko, along with other teens, call the staff their “Nanay” and “Tatay.”
The interventions provided inside the rehabilitation center gave Miko an opportunity to go back to school.
He has just passed the Alternative Learning System (ALS) exam and now plans to pursue his studies in college.
“I want to be a police officer to protect and serve the people, and to defend the innocent,” he said.
A chance to renew one’s life
For Miko, being transferred to the rehabilitation center gave him a chance to renew his life. It slowly restored his social functioning, which made him realize that it is possible to live a normal life again after what he went through.
He also shared that RRCY has helped him have another family through the staff in the center who treated him and his fellow residents as their own.
“I can say that the staff at the center are like my real family because of how they treat me,” he said.
Providing an ambiance of a home for children’s reformation, the Department’s RRCYs help enable youth offenders to restore their social functioning and live a normal life again through reunification to their family, eventually making them productive members of the community.
Some of the services and intervention provided in RRCYs include counselling, values formation sessions, formal and non-formal education, psychotherapy sessions, health services, and recreational and cultural activities, among others.
No to lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility
According to DSWD Undersecretary for Protective Services Hope V. Hervilla, Filipino children who are in conflict with the law can be rehabilitated and led away from a life of crime.
“With the provision of enough intervention and the support of their families and the community, Filipino children can straighten the path they are treading and live a normal life again. This is why we continue to join the call against lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR),” Usec. Hervilla said.
The welfare official reiterated that lowering the MACR violates the fundamental principles of social protection of children, as provided for by law, and by international treaties, and internationally-accepted standards and principles.
“Lower age of criminal responsibility results in more children being detained; substantially higher public expenditures; and an even higher social cost of re-offending and graver offending, which simply demonstrates that such a measure is not cost effective. What we want is better support services for Filipino children and a holistic approach to the implementation of laws protecting them. We want to protect them, not criminalize them,” Usec. Hervilla said. SMS DSWD / MCAG