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Does Republic Act No. 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, in its current form, contribute to the current state of criminality in our country?
President Rodrigo R. Duterte believes that said law “produced about five to six generations” of criminals and he also noted that young people who “committed crimes are released on the same day irrespective of the gravity of the offense.” He further asserted that said law “produced people of criminal minds” and linked such to the difficulty of the government in stopping the drug problem in the country.
The assertions made by President Duterte brings to light the need, to revisit R.A. No. 9344 and assess the extent to which the law and how it is implemented serve the interest of the Philippines and the Filipino people.
There were many instances when criminal syndicates used R.A. No. 9344 to further their criminal activities, specifically by using children as crime “agents.” Has the government addressed this? Even if it can be argued that the children in such cases remain to be victims and not criminals, and should thus be free from any criminal liability, the counter-argument is also valid – that the law facilitates the commission of “crimes” against said children.
To what extent have parents been made answerable for the actions of their minor children? As R.A.9344 provides for the release of offenders to their parents and with obviously no effective mechanism for parents to be held liable should their children violate laws again or for the parents to ensure that their children stop in violating laws, R.A. No. 9344 appears to be non-responsive to what’s in the best interest of our children.
Does the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act really promote and ensure justice and welfare of Filipino children?
What justice does the said law provide if indeed, it contributes to the development of criminal minds among our children, as President Duterte asserted?
Is it for the welfare of the Filipino children to have a law that makes them more vulnerable to be made crime agents of criminal syndicates?
Is it really in the best interest of our children for them to be released to their parents when they violated the law even if it is obvious that it is their parents’ irresponsibility that allowed them to do such violations?
(Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)