Juvenile Delinquent Law must be repealed, says Davao mayor

By , on June 23, 2014

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DAVAO CITY – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte wants a repeal of the Juvenile Justice System and Welfare Act, saying “it sucks” for it promoted false belief that minors are vulnerable and invincible when they commit crimes.

“It brings chaos to the criminality system,” Duterte said on heels of report that crimes involving minors continue to rise in the city.

He said theft or the “akyat bahay” is bugging public security, emphasizing that the police is helpless in curbing crimes involving minors.

At the joint City Peace and Order Council on Friday, the City’s Anti-Drug Abuse Council and the People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) and the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) reported that 30 per cent of the number of index crimes in the city was perpetrated by minors as young as 10 years old and mostly habitual offenders.

A two-month (April – May 2014) crime statistics of DCPO showed that there were 1,332 cases reflecting an 11 per cent increase from last year with 1,182 in the same period. The non-index crimes also reflected a two per cent rise to 1,584 from 1,550 in the same period last year; while, the crime volume reached 2,882 cases from 2,766 last year or an increase of four per cent. But the crime solution efficiency decreased by 36.80 per cent with only 1,018 solved cases from a total crime volume of 2,766, DCPO reported.

During his Sunday regular program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa”, Duterte stressed the majority of the crimes is putting too much pressure on the police because these were committed by minors.

“Bisag arestuhon pa nimo – walay mabuhat ang police kung kuhaon na sa ginikanan. Sila pod ang ma-preso (Even if the police will arrest them -– they cannot do anything if the parents come and take custody of their children. They (police) can be charged if they held them (minor offenders),” he said, thus minors go scot-free.

Minor offenders are released as fast as they are arrested, Duterte added.

“We are facing an incongruous situation here,” he said.

The mayor was also concerned that minor offenders are the future hardened criminals because they do not undergo any counseling to let them understand the gravity of their offenses while still minors.

Duterte blamed the Juvenile Justice System and Welfare Act or Republic Act 9344 as culprit in the increasing index crimes and address issues of Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL).

The mayor even criticized the author of the law, then Senator Francis Pangilinan, for failing to consider future consequences when the law was crafted.

According to Duterte, the law was a mere copy from a similar law in the United States that is not applicable under the Philippine setting.

In the US, he said another set of mechanism was established to meet the demands of minor offenders wherein they are put in children half way homes before they can go back to the family.

He said Philippines cannot cope with advance countries like the US in dealing with CICL.

“Ulahi na ta (We are already behind),” he said, adding that the author has never fathomed the demands and needs of a poor family. We must go back to lowering the minimum age to nine years and ensure some safety mechanism to also protect the child.

Under the law, the minimum age of criminal responsibility 15 years old or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall remain exempt from criminal liability. The law also requires that the offender shall be subjected to an intervention program of the government.