MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and House of Representatives panels have failed to agree on certain amending provisions to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act during a bicameral conference committee Monday.
The Senate version of the bill exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability while the House version exempts children 12 years old and below.
Another bicameral conference will be held for both panels to negotiate further on the disagreeing provisions of both bills.
Both bills provide that children caught committing crimes shall be released back to their parents but would be made to undergo an intervention or rehabilitation program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The bill also provides that parents would also be held accountable for whatever damages their children might have caused, according to a lawyer of Senator Francis Pangilinan, the co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate
“If the child committed theft, he or she is obliged to return the thing he or she has stolen. If it is not possible to return what he or she has stolen, the parents should pay the amount equivalent to what the child has stolen,” lawyer Cecile Palines of Pangilinan’s office said in a previous statement.
If the child committed a heinous crime such as murder, homicide, kidnapping, rape, he or she would immediately be made to undergo a “multi-disciplinary intervention program under the intensive juvenile intervention and support center of the Bahay Pag-asa,” the bill said.
The bill also states that any person who has been found to be taking advantage or exploiting the child who committed the crime shall be held punished for the act of the child.
“[Adults who] take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the child and shall induce, threaten or instigate the commission of the crime, shall be imposed the penalty prescribed by law for the crime committed in its maximum period,” the bill said.
Children who have gone through a rehabilitation program must be assessed by the court to determine if the child is ready to be reintegrated with his family or if the program must be continued further, it said.
Assistance to victims of a crime committed by the child, such as psychosocial intervention, is also required to be provided by the local DSWD officer, the bill said.