Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan slammed the “erroneous” implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, saying that children who commit crimes should not just be released, but instead be placed in youth care facilities for rehabilitation.
“Any child in conflict with the law should be brought to a social welfare officer or a Bahay Pag-asa,” Pangilinan told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly ripped at Pangilinan for the “great injustice” the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, which he authored, supposedly caused.
In November 2018, Duterte lamented at how teens caught committing rape and homicide would come in-and-out of jail since they cannot be prosecuted.
However, Pangilinan said the law has already been amended so that any child aged 12 to 15 who commit serious offenses like murder and rape would have to be placed in a Bahay Pag-asa for at least one year.
The law has also been amended so that children below 15 years old who are found by the local social welfare and development officer to be dependent, abandoned, neglected or abused by their parents can be placed in a Bahay Pag-asa, upon authorization of their parents or guardians, or in their absence or refusal, through a petition for involuntary commitment.
Children aged 12 to 15 who are repeat offenders who have already undergone a community-based intervention program can also be placed in a Bahay Pag-asa as long as it is in their best interest and their parents or guardians approve of it, or if they are absent or refuse, a petition for their involuntary commitment is approved.
However, the opposition senator noted that there is a lack of Bahay Pag-asas, despite Congress allotting in 2013 ?400 million for the establishment of these facilities across the country.
“Pinasa natin ‘yung batas, naglagay tayo ng pondo. Ano pang gagawin ng legislation? Execution na ito, implementation na ito at hindi ginagawa,” he said.
[Translation: We already passed the law, we allotted funding. What else does the legislature have to do? This is already a matter of execution and implementation, and it is not being done.]