Stricter implementation of juvenile law urged

By Caroline Howard, ANC

Posted at Nov 03 2012 05:39 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2012 03:02 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Juvenile Justice Welfare Council (JJWC) calls on government to implement the Juvenile Justice Law amid the killing of a 9-year-old boy by minors in Bonifacio Global City.

An 11-year-old suspect is in the custody of the Social Welfare Department.

Under the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006, children aged 15 and below are not covered by any criminal liability but Atty. Tricia Oco, executive director of the JJWC, notes that the suspect's parents could face civil liability.

“If the child is not 15 years old or below, that child is not liable to any criminal liability, so there will be no criminal case filed against the child. However, there is civil liability filed against his parents,” she said.

Oco notes that the social welfare officer will have to assess whether the child should be given back to parents or institutionalized as required in serious cases.

She adds that the suspect should undergo an intervention and rehabilitation program while the case is ongoing.

“The child should be held accountable. It’s not normal for any child to do what he did. He needs to have therapy, a rehabilitation program of some sort, which will assure society that when he comes out of that program he will not do it again,” said Oco.

Oco admits that the lack of facilities for juvenile delinquents poses a challenge to implementing the restorative justice program.

But she insists that lowering the age of criminal liability is not the answer to deterring crime involving youth offenders.

“What the law is saying is you should discipline them or make them accountable in a different way…if you lower the age of these children, file a criminal case against them, put them in prison, you will just damage these children the more and make criminals out of them. Aside from making them accountable right now, ang gusto natin when they come out, eventually kasi babalik din ‘yan sa society,” she said.

Oco says studies over the past 30 years show that many children who have been detained become repeat offenders.