MANILA –As an alternative to lowering the criminal age of responsibility, a senator on Sunday sought for a review on the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act No. 9344, as amended) as a solution to lowering the number of crime among minors.
Sen. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said that instead of focusing on the age of criminal liability, the government should focus on treating the root cause of the problem such as poverty in slums and rural villages.
He also said that the government should engage in programs to prevent children from committing crimes at an early age.
“Rather than lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the more feasible solution to the growing number of children in conflict with the law (CICL) is the full and proper implementation of RA 9344, as amended, and the examination of laws accruing to the responsibility of parents and guardians in the exercise of moral authority and guardianship for the general welfare of these children,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian filed Senate Resolution No. 268 which directs the appropriate Senate committee to conduct a review of the law’s implementation.
Meanwhile, the neophyte senator expressed optimism that a review of the existing law would eventually lower crime rates among children, while prioritizing rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile delinquents.
“Proponents of lowering the age of criminal responsibility are too quick to give up on underprivileged kids in trouble with the law. For me, however, these troubled children deserve the benefit of the doubt,” Gatchalian said.
“These kids aren’t lost causes, and I believe that we can still help them turn their lives around by lending a firm but nurturing helping hand,” he added.
He further stressed that the government should exhaust all options in trying to fix the current juvenile justice system before “throwing toddlers in jail.”