Judge Avisado: Juvenile Justice Act is a good law but…

Jul. 02, 2007

DAVAO CITY — The former presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 9 and presently convenor of the Transformative Justice Institute Atty. Adoracion Avisado had said that the Juvenile Justice Act is a good law but has aspects that need to be looked into.

The intention of the law is very good, Avisado said. But the lady lawyer said that the big problem of the law is with the budget or lack of it, a problem which has drawn flak from the laws critics.

It is putting a lot of work on the social workers said Avisado. The law directs law enforcers to turn over children caught for unlawful or criminal acts to social workers upon their apprehension. However the new job is putting the strain on the present number of social workers.

Avisado also cited RA 9344 as it increases the age of exemption of criminal liability. The law now provides that children be 15 years of age and below would be exempt from criminal liability. She said in the past children 9 years and below were exempt from criminal liability.

The retired judge also cited a provision in the law which provides that the task to determine if the youth offenders ages 15 to 18 years old acted without discernment are given to the social workers, yet according to the social workers they have asked they have no knowledge on how to determine the presence of discernment of these youth offenders.

She said that instead of attacking the law we must help implement it. But we must advocate amendments particularly those which she cited.

Its a very good law; were not just copying what the United States of European Union is doing. The country is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the law is one of the efforts of the country in honoring the provisions of the convention.

Avisado said the intention of the law is to divert the child away from the courts. The diversion program involves their families, communities and the local barangay officials.

However she said there are misconceptions in the diversion aspect of the law. There is misconception that if youre an offender and youre 15 years old the police will just leave you alone. She clarified that in the law only criminal liability is exempted not civil liability.

The act falls within a framework of restorative justice instead of the retributive approach. The child is diverted from the courts, undergoes rehabilitation and reintegrates him or her to the community.

Avisado has urged lawmakers to study what is needed presently for the law to be effectively implemented. (PIA XI/RG Alama) (davaotoday.com)

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