The issue is not on lowering the age of discernment for minor offenders in the Philippines, it is on how to implement Republic Act 9344, or the Juvenile Justice Welfare law properly, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said in Bacolod City Saturday.
Philippine National Police records show that from 1,825 young offenders in 2007, the number has jumped to 5,318 cases in 2011, or a 290 percent increase.
Pangilinan, who authored the law in 2006, said lowering the age of discernment of children in conflict with the law or locking them in the jail may not be the absolute resolutions to stop minors from committing crimes.
Instead, he said, more youth centers should be built nationwide for CICLs, where they will be rehabilitated.
Pangilinan said that nine additional youth centers for CICLs were built in the country this year and they expect to build more especially that there is a sufficient budget for the Juvenile Justice Welfare Council and with their strong partnership with private groups and individuals,
Under RA9344, 15-years-old CICLs or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempted from criminal liabilities while 16 and 17 years-old should be assessed if they acted on discernment when they committed the crime.
There is a pending proposal to amend the law and change the age of the CICL who can be held criminally liable from 17 to 15 in congress following several clamors especially from the Philippine National Police because there are adults and even syndicates who use these minors in committing crimes.*APN