Don’t blame the children, group reminds Duterte

DAVAO CITY – A child rights’ advocate group reminded Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that poverty is still the cause of crimes in the country.

This after Duterte said that should he win during the elections, he would recommend to Congress the repeal of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act authored by former Senator Francis Pangilinan.

Rius Valle of Children’s Rehabilitation Center said that it is “not the law” that produces criminals.

“The question is whether the law has been fully implemented to protect he children,” said Valle.

The law was anchored on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child where “the State recognizes the right of every child alleged as, accused of, adjudged, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, taking into account the child’s age and desirability of promoting his/her reintegration.”

“Were those children who were arrested provided with the help as mandated by the law?,” said Valle citing the needs for rehabilitation, psychosocial therapy and diversion program.

“Were these requirements fully provided before releasing the child? Were they put in a rehabilitation center or in a prison facility?” he added.

Valle said the government should look at the situation which pushed the child to do crimes like poverty and lack of access to social services including education and health service.

“Why would a child commit theft? Are his parents employed? It means, the problem of criminality is still rooted in the societal problems,” said Valle.

According to Section 6 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act a 15-year-old child who committed a criminal offense “shall be exempt from criminal liability.

“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,” it said.

Duterte said, because of the law the country has “produced several criminals in the process.”

“It has not helped the country at all, rather it promoted criminality,” said Duterte.

Duterte said young criminals has caused impunity “because they have experienced crime with no accountability at all.”

“They commit sorts of crime, rape patyon, kawat patyon and they go free (They commit sorts of crime, they rape and they kill, they rob and they kill, and they go free),” he said.

The City Prosecution Office here reported an increase in the number of children in conflict with the law (CICL) in the first quarter of this year with 91 cases compared to last year’s 73 cases, or a 124.66 percent increase.

According to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council, the Philippines has over 11,000 CICL in 2009.

Valle said the proliferation of crimes should not be blamed on children.

“The rotten system of the government should not be blamed on the children. If Mayor Duterte sees that there is a problem in our government, like what he is saying, well that reflects the situation of our children,” he said.

Valle said, if Duterte wins in the elections, it is a challenge for him to prioritize the basic needs of the children including free education and free health services.

Valle said they would propose to review the law and implement it fully before repealing it.

“Let’s see if the agencies who are implementing the law, the community, the law enforcement, the prosecution service, the courts and the correctional institutions – are fully functional and are conscious in implementing the law,” he said.

“Are all of them aware of the sensitivity of the cases? Because if one of these pillars are dysfunctional then the children will be in a cycle of being involved in criminal offenses, worst, they would get involved in heinous crimes,” said Valle.

Valle added that they are open to sit in to update and monitor the law to strengthen it if there are loopholes.

Valle also saidt they believe Duterte is familiar with the effect of societal problems on children.

“I think Mayor Duterte knows the answer. That’s why we have high expectations on him as a presidential candidate because we know him. So far he listens to us and the breakthrough of the Davao City Children’s Welfare Code in 1994 is commendable,” he said.

The Davao City Children’s Welfare Code, known as the Comprehensive Children and Family Support System in Davao City is a landmark legislation that aims to advance and promote the rights and protection of the child.(

comments powered by Disqus