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Children in conflict with the law won’t be sent to ordinary prisons, Leachon clarifies

/ 04:47 PM January 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Under the bill passed by the House justice panel Monday, children in conflict with the law will not be sent to ordinary prisons but in “reformative institutions” like the Bahay Pag-asa, panel chair Rep. Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon said Monday.

READ: House panel swiftly okays lower age of criminal liability

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“Let it be understood that with the present bill, we are not putting these children in jail but in reformative institutions to correct their ways and bring them back to the community,” Leachon told reporters.

“It is high time to pass this Bill in order to protect our children from being used by ruthless and unscrupulous criminal syndicates to evade prosecution and punishment,” he added.

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But Child Rights Network Philippines convenor Rom Dongeto argued that under the “poor” justice system in the country, a lot of children in conflict with the law are still being held in ordinary prisons.

“Sa laki po ng problema ng justice system natin, umikot po kayo Mindanao, Luzon ang daming pong mga bata na ngayong may JJWA (Juvenile Justice and Welface Act) tayo ang dami pong nakakulong, nakahalo po sa mga kulungan ng matatanda,” Dongeto told reporters as he emphasized that only 1.7 percent of crimes had been committed by children.

(We have a huge problem in our justice system and even the JJWA. Try going the rounds in Mindanao and Luzon, there are many children jailed with adults.)

“At ‘yan po ay dulot ng kahirapan, pagnanakaw o theft… Sila po ay nagugutom, biktima ng kahirapan at mga dysfunctional families (And that is a result of poverty, stealing or theft…They are hungry and a victim of poverty and dysfunctional families),” he added. “Ang habulin ninyo po ay mga sindikato hindi po ‘yung mga bata (Run after the sydicates, not the children).”

READ: CHR, Unicef, rights groups protest: Why jail a 9-year-old? 

The still unnumbered substitute bill, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, states that Bahay Pag-asa would provide short-term residential care for children in conflict with the law who are nine years old and above but below 18 years old and who are committed for rehabilitation or awaiting court disposition of their cases or transfer to other agencies or jurisdiction.

The bill proposes that Bahay Pag-asa be managed and funded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development instead of local government units.

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The bill also indicates that persons who use children in committing a crime would be punished by reclusion temporal, if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of six years or less, and by reclusion perpetua, if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of more than six years.

Parents of children who committed any of the serious crimes will also undergo intervention programs like seminar and counseling, according to the bill.

There is also a new provision reducing the sentence for children in conflict with the law to two degrees lower than that prescribed in the law.

Another new provision penalizes any violation of confidentiality of records relating to the proceedings involving children in conflict with the law.

After conviction, a child in conflict with the law will be made to serve his or her sentence in an agricultural camp or other training facilities in partnership with the Bureau of Corrections and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. /ee

Read the bill here:
new doc 2019-01-21 12.26.05_20190121123008

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TAGS: age of criminal liability, children in conflict with the law, International news, Salvador “Doy” Leachon
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