Pia hails Juvenile Justice law amendments

Statement
23 May 2017

On the substitute bill strengthening Juvenile Justice Law
By Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano
Representative, Taguig City 2nd District

I am happy to report that we have approved the substitute bill on Juvenile Justice in connection with the bills that were filed lowering the age of criminal responsibility. The bill that the committee approved is one that recognizes that children are most vulnerable and, in the current situation, a lot of our children have been exploited, have been taken advantage of, and a lot of them have been introduced to the criminal world. And so what we tried to achieve with the bill is to address the fact that these children must still take responsibility for their acts, but at the same time, recognize that they are victims, and that they have been taken advantage of by society and those with criminal minds. They will not be subjected to criminal proceedings at a tender age. What the bill now proposes is that these children will be put into intervention programs and these are programs that are determined by the State to be effective. So we recognize parental responsibility but the State, through DSWD, makes a determination if the children should be left with their parents or if they should be taken away from their parents and put in these intervention programs, including Bahay Pag-asa.

So sa madaling salita po, ang ginawa po natin is under the current law, pinapalakas natin ito by giving the State that ability to take these children immediately and put them into programs. Kasi yan ho ang naging daing, yan ang naging problema ng ating law enforcers at barangay captains, na to the point na winagayway sa harap nila, ng mga bata, ang kanilang birth certificate, dahil alam nilang hindi sila pwedeng ikulong if they are under the age of fifteen. So ang inaaddres po natin ngayon is, hindi man namin kayo isu-subject sa criminal responsibility, you still are responsible for it. So we are sending the message that the State will not allow you to continue doing these criminal activities. Hindi pwede. Pero we also recognize that, ‘Sige bata ka, pagbibigyan ka, tutulungan kang ma-rehabilitate.’ So I am very happy that this is a balance between the need to protect and nurture the children, but at the same time, give them that sense of responsibility that they must be accountable for their actions. Hindi naman pwedeng lumulusot, hindi naman pwedeng ginagamit lang sila, at sasabihin nilang ‘Eh bata pa ako, di ko alam ang ginagawa ko.’ Hindi.

Children, kailangan responsible kayo sa mga action nyo at kayo ay ire-rehabilitate, mawawala din kayo sa piling ng parents nyo kung hindi rin nila kayo kayang turuan at bigyan ng magandang guidance. So that’s the gist of the bill. Marami pa hong detalye dyan. Binibigyan din ho natin ng napakataas na penalty yung mga taong nagbibigay ng masamang impluwensya sa mga batang ito, those people who influence, the ones who subject these children to this kind of criminal life. Sila po ay bibingyan ng penalty, practically parang doble yung penalty sa kung ano yung act na pnapagawa nila sa mga bata. There are more details and we would be happy to highlight these later on. But I just want to give you a verbal report para maintindihan nyo po ang outcome nitong halos isang taong din na tinrabaho. And I am so proud and happy to be a part of this final outcome, which is a collaborative work between members of Congress and the stakeholders who really worked to get a bill that would address those dual concerns: Number 1, yung pangalagaan at bigyan ng guidance at support itong mga bata, but also Number 2, which is the intention of the main proponents of the bill, and also of the administration, which is to hold these children, make sure that they are accountable for their action, because they have be accountable, and they have to know that it is not acceptable what they are doing. #

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