Saturday, May 20, 2006

Implications of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006

Last Tuesday, May 16, Gloria in the Palace signed into law Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. The law, authored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, aims at keeping youth offenders below 15 years old out of jails and exempts offenders aged 15 to 18 from criminal charges, except if they committed a criminal act with discernment.

While the civil society is waiving its hands in praise for Pangilinan and Gloria Arroyo, and the Catholic Church is reconsidering its ties with the Philippine President with questionable legitimacy, the dark side of the newly signed law is lurking behind -- that is, the increase of wrongful acts (earlier considered as crimes) committed by minors, the increase of crimes that go unpunished, and the twisting of the scales of justice. Why? Let us count the ways:

  1. The new law does not capacitate the law enforcers to strictly implement all criminal laws. That means .... DATING GAWI. This time, however, with a twist. If the suspect is a minor, automatically, the suspect is freed. And this will be the case even if the minor was only acting on based on the directions of an adult. Consider, for example, the number of drug-related cases in the country. How many minors are involved? Consider also the number of cellphone snatchings happening daily? How many are minors?
  2. The colatilla, "except in cases that the child acted in discernment" is very limiting. Here in the Philippines, the burden of proof always lie on the complainant (prosecution). If a child is involved in a criminal act, the prosecution is always burdened by the following: That there is a criminal act committed, That the act was committed by the accused (who is a minor) , and that the accused (the minor) acted in discernment. Under the old Revised Penal Code, discernment is required from accused aging 12-15. Raising to 15-18 years old simply means redefining discernment. Aren't the children nowadays more intelligent than the children of long ago? And to consider that the age of minority was even lowered to 18 from 21 years old!?? Why, are there new guidelines on how to distinguish acts committed with discernment and those which are not?
  3. The law does not punish law enforcers sleeping on the job. Consider how many crimes remain unsolved. With the stricter laws under the old RPC police officers and other law enforcers are already having more bonding time with their pillows, ngayon pa kaya? Makita lang nila na bata pa ng accused, palalayain na, di ba?
  4. The law also does not impose stiffer penalties on parents. Well, I do not disagree with the law pero dapat me parusa din sa pagiging pabaya ng mga magulang. Or, much better, ang magulang ang parusahan sa krimen na nagawa ng anak. Consider the wipe-the-shoe children racing with cars and jeepneys in highways. Because hunger, parang silang putakti na basta na lang mananalakay ng jeep posing danger both to them and to the drivers. And, because of hunger, some of them are already turning to pickpockets and cellphone snatchers. Asan ang magulang nila? Nagpapasarap sa malamig na gabi? If they can't be responsible parents, they should have not given birth to these children. So they should be punished if their children committed crimes.
  5. Lastly, the law does not give opportunities to children to grow properly. Does the implementing rules and regulations include: (a) the eradication of poverty and generation of new jobs for the parents para di na maakit ang mga bata na gumala sa kalye at gumawa ng mga bagay na magiging panawid-gutom, (b) strictly enforce the constitutional right of every children to free and quality education para di na maakit ang mga bata na gumala sa kalye dahil walang ginagawa, and, (c) strictly inculcate and enforce among parents the value of responsible parenthood. Kung meron ng mga ito, there is even no need to enact laws like this one passed by Pangilinan.
True, though the criminal liability is absolved, the civil liability still remains. But the question is: Paano mo maibabalik ang buhay ni Yaya Turing na nabaril ng 12 years old na anak ni Sir Jorge dahil akala ng bata ay laruan lang ang kakalat-kalat na baril ng ama?Kaya na ba ang P20,000? O kaya P50,000?

Cheap naman, Mr. Pangilinan and Ms. Gloria in the Palace!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kulang!At masyadong one sided...and this law is terribly abused, how many minors have committed crimes already and gotten away with it? And how many minors are employed by sindicates already coause minors enjoy immunity from criminal liablity? And this are all in the hands of Pangilinan and Gloria, huwag kayo maghugas kamay...

I am trying to be civil here...