Juvenile Justice Law Amendments Sought

MANILA, Philippines --- The multitude of crimes involving minors is a sign that it is time for amendments to be made to the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006, the Manila Social Welfare Department (MSWD) said.

MSWD Chief Jay dela Fuente described the crimes involving children as "very alarming," referring to reports where minors became entangled in grave offenses.

"I am very vocal about this. This should be amended. The other social welfare chiefs may not have the same view because they are for child protection and welfare but I think we should also look at the gravity of the offense," dela Fuente said.

Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act and Welfare of 2006 provides the following for the child: "the right to have restrictions on his/her personal liberty limited to the minimum; the right to automatic suspension of sentence; the right to probation as an alternative to imprisonment, if qualified under the Probation Law and the right not to be deprived, unlawfully or arbitrarily, of his/her liberty; detention or imprisonment being a disposition of last resort, and which shall be for the shortest appropriate period of time.'

"A child above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18) years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with this Act," the law said.

"As of now, what we do is we 'homesend' them which means we cannot hold them, we send them back to their homes to their communities," Dela Fuente said.

"Dapat may konting pananagutan, may tamang pag-aaral at proseso. Gawan ng tamang intervention, yung mas konkreto...bigatan ng konti," he added.

According to the MSWD chief, he is in favor of a temporary holding center where the child offender could have a better grasp of the gravity of his offense through counseling that would also involve his or her parents.

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