Kiko, Chiz differ on Juvenile Justice Law
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan, who authored the Juvenile Justice Law, said the law failed to be fully implemented because the Arroyo administration did not allot any funds for it, resulting to what is now a series of youth crimes experienced around the country.
"Three times yan sa [Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council] ni dating Pangulong Arroyo, pero hindi pinansin, hindi pinondohan," he said.
Pangilinan stood by his law, saying this must be given a chance to work. His law was mainly to rehabilitate youth in conflict with the law, 15 years old and above, by placing them under the supervision of shelter centers located in major cities around the country.
Sen. Francis Escudero, however, said this law must be amended because it has been abused by criminal syndicates using children as their drug couriers and crime agents.
Escudero believes that the age requirement should be lowered to 9 years old, from the existing 15 yrs old. "Sa panahon ng Internet ngayon, mas marami nang alam ang bata ngayon kaysa sa bata noon," he said.
Both Pangilinan and Escudero believe that minors in conflict with the law should not be put to jail.
Escudero said both the old law and the new juvenile justice law he is pushing are anchored on "reforms.”
Pangilinan, for his part said, "Dati kahit first time, diretso sa city jail, hinalo ka na…kinabukasan nung bata, nawasak na."
Pangilinan said the data they gathered revealed that only 5% of the total population of youth offenders are so-called "repeaters" or those who have committed various crimes time and again. The remaining are those who are first-and last-time offenders who stay in rehab centers and have thus acquired the virtue of change.
Under his law, Pangilinan said those serious offenders are subject to "involuntary confinement" until such time that he is completely reformed or until he reaches the legal age of 18.
By 18 years old, if still found unsuitable to go back to society, Pangilinan said the youth must continue to serve his sentence just like any convicted adults.