Few days ago, the Senate approved on final reading a bill amending Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, in order to improve its implementation. I AM IN FAVOR OF THIS GREAT ACT BY OUR LAWMAKERS.
We all know that Republic Act No. 9344 has been intended to protect the welfare of children in conflict with the law, majority of who are guilty of petty crimes such as petty theft, vagrancy and sniffing glue. Prior to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, children in conflict with the law were thrown into the same prison cells as hardened criminals. Studies show that most of them were first-time offenders, while eight percent committed crimes against property. These children are then doomed to a life of crime, rending them victims of a judicial system that inadvertently breeds criminals. With the implementation of RA 9344, children in conflict with the law are being provided with intervention programs instead of being thrown into jail. But like any other law, certain provisions of RA 9344 need to be improved. Now, Senate Bill No. 3324 amended Republic Act No. 9344, NOT because it wants to revise it, but simply because it wants to clarify the meaning of “fifteen years of age,” the age of criminal responsibility. Current misinterpretation leads to youth offenders under 15 years old being released when they should instead be subject to formal proceedings.
Under the proposed measure, children 15 years old and under at the time of the commission of the crime, will be exempted from criminal liability. However, these minors can face civil liabilities in accordance with existing laws.
Children who are 15 years of age or under shall not be exempt from civil liabilities. Liability of parents for quasi-delicts and felonies committed by their minor children is direct and primary and not subsidiary. This means that the...