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Senate seeks suspension of Juvenile Justice Law implementation

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Due to increasing number of crimes involving minors, the Senate committee on justice and human rights is set to release next week its committee report on the proposal to suspend the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, a law exempting youngsters 15 years old and below from criminal liability.

”Our proposal is to return to old provision of Child and Youth Welfare Code or the Revised Penal Code wherein only the nine-year-old under would be exempted from criminal liability,” Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said on Monday.
Escudero’s committee will come out with the report amid reports that minors aged 14 to 19 years have been apprehended for opening unlocked doors and robbing the drivers and passengers of vehicles stuck in traffic along EDSA. The minors are reportedly members of a criminal youth gang known as “Batang Hamog.”

”Under the old law, if the suspect is 15 years old, he can be arrested and suspend the sentence until he or she reaches 18 years of age. At present, the 15-year-old suspects cannot be charged,” Escudero said.

The lawmaker said a 15-year-old suspect is old enough to discern the right and wrong, adding the age limit is too high and being taken advantage by the syndicates who use minors on their illegal activities.

Escudero said he is hoping that his proposed bill to suspend the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Law will be discussed soon at the plenary.

For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson said there is a need to revisit the Juvenile Justice law that extinguishes minors from criminal liability by virtue of age.
”If you will notice, the age of the minors involved in crimes is getting younger. How can we serve justice if they are exempted in the crime they are committing? There are many suggestions to revisit again (the law),” Lacson said.

Lacson, however, said the accused minors should not be put inside prison cell of the common criminals.

”If they are found guilty, we can put them in the facilities where they will not be treated as criminals, then suspend the sentence, meaning it will be served only when they reach the right age,” Lacson said.

Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III also believe that there is a need to revisit the law but with only "minor changes." (PNA/PIA9-BST)




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