Senate amends Juvenile Justice Law

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Latest News Philippines: Senate amends Juvenile Justice Law –

THE Senate has approved on final reading Senate Bill No. 3324 which makes parents “liable” for any civil offense committed by their children. 

SB 3324 under Committee Report No. 463 amends Republic Act No. 934 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 to “plug” the apparent loopholes in its implementation, such as the immediate release of youth offenders without first subjecting them to formal proceedings, said Sen.Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, co-sponsor of the measure.

Under SB 3324, children 15 years-old and under at the time of the commission of the crime, “will be exempted” from criminal liability.

“However, these minors can face civil liabilities in accordance with existing laws,” Pangilinan said.

“Children who are 15 years of age or under shall not be exempt from civil liabilities. Liability of parents for quasi-delicts and felonies committed by their minor children is direct and primary and not subsidiary. This means that the parents or guardians exercising parental authority over their children shall be responsible for the restitution, reparation and indemnification for consequential damages, as the case may be,” he said.

“If the child committed theft, he or she is obliged to return the thing he or she has stolen. If it is not possible to return what he or she has stolen, the parents should pay the amount equivalent to what the child has stolen,” he explained.

He said that SB 3324 also seeks assistance to victims of crimes committed by children.

“It will also ask local government units to strictly implement local curfew ordinances for the protection of children. However, no penalty shall be imposed on the child. Instead he will be accompanied to his or her residence,” Pangilinan said.

The senator raised the need to protect the welfare of children in conflict with the law, majority of whom are guilty of petty crimes such as petty theft, vagrancy and sniffing glue.

“Prior to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, children in conflict with the law were thrown into the same prison cells as hardened criminals. Studies show that most of them were first time offenders, while eight percent committed crimes against property. These children are then doomed to a life of crime, rending them victims of a judicial system that inadvertently breeds criminals,” Pangilinan said.

With the implementation of RA 9344, Pangilinan said, children in conflict with the law are being provided with intervention programs instead of being thrown into jail.

But like any other law, he explained, certain provisions of RA 9344 need to be improved.

SBN 3324 clarifies the meaning of “fifteen years of age,” as the age of criminal responsibility.

Current misinterpretation leads to youth offenders under 15 years-old being released when they should instead be subject to formal proceedings.

“Children under this category shall be immediately released to the custody of his or her parents or guardians, or in the absence thereof, the child’s nearest relative. Furthermore, children who are 15 years-old or below shall be subjected to a community-based intervention program supervised by the local social welfare and development officer, unless the best interest of the child requires the referral of the child to a youth care facility or Bahay Pag-Asa managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government unit or licensed and/or accredited non-governmental organization monitored by the DSWD,” he said.

The measure also proposes that repeat offenders or children who have committed crimes more than three times, be considered as neglected children and, as such, must undergo intervention programs supervised by the local Social Welfare and Development officers.


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