Jade Ckerstine A. Clarete
Ms. Diana Espanto
Senators want prison for youths involved in crimes
In light of minors getting involved in crimes, such as the "bukas taxi" modus of youths along EDSA-Guadalupe in Makati City, several senators are now pushing to lower from age 15 to age 9 the limit on exemption of a child from criminal liability. Under Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, a child 15 years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability.Senator Chiz Escudero believes that the age limit should not be increased but rather decreased to allow prosecution of minors who have been involved in criminal activities. "Ang kabataan ngayon mas marami nang alam, maski na mga bata pa, kaysa sa mga kabataan ngayon," Escudero said. He believes that the age limit should be downgraded to 9 years old since most of minors involved in crimes, like the recent gang rape of a girl by 2 14-year-old old suspects. "Siguro nga dapat babaan pero hindi dapat taasan parang ang sinasabi pa nila ang mga kabataan ngayon ay mas kaunti ang alam, mas hindi alam ang kaibahan ng tama sa mali, kumpara noon, na hindi naman siguro," said Escudero. Senator Vicente Sotto III said he will support the move of Escudero. Sotto has sponsored a bill seeking amendment to the Juvenile Justice Law, imposing an age limit to 12 years old. "Kung hihirit ng 9 years old, sige ibababa ko sa 9," said Sotto. Senator Pia Cayetano is also open to an amendment of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. Cayetano chairs the Senate Committee on Youth, Women, and Family Relations.
Senators decry slow resolution of court cases
Less than 4 out of every 10 cases in various courts all over the country have been resolved, much to the alarm of some senators scrutinizing the judiciary's proposed budget for 2012. Data from the Supreme Court show out of a total of 1,012,817 pending cases, the courts have disposed of only 380,490 or 37.5 percent. Of all the courts, the Sandiganbayan has the lowest case disposition rate at 3.86 percent. "This is a stumbling block to the government's effort to prosecute grafters in this government," finance committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon told reporters after the hearing on Tuesday. During the hearing, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Francisco Villaruz explained delays are usually caused by the lack of witnesses from both prosecution and defense panels and the numerous motions raised during proceedings, among others. "The pace of a trial can be hastened or slackened depending on how the judge would handle the trial. If he imposes discipline on the parties, 50 percent of the problem is solved," Drilon said. Sen. Joker Arroyo described the current rate at which cases have been disposed of as "shocking." "Can you not revise the rules so that there will be more speedy trials," he asked Villaruz. Villaruz said the Sandiganbayan has already done so. For instance, a case will only be accepted once the Office of the Ombudsman has certified it, and no pleadings on the determination of probable cause will be accepted. He added the anti-graft court also plans to hold continuous hearings on long-overdue cases. Drilon asked the judiciary to submit to the committee an action plan on expediting the resolution of cases.
Kiko to PNP: Go after syndicates using minors
Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Wednesday challenged cops to dismantle criminal syndicates instead of focusing on minors who are being used by these syndicates to commit crimes. Pangilinan, principal author of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, said it is easier for cops to blame the law or minors involved in crimes rather than pursuing criminal syndicates. “Is this their agenda? Absolve the criminal syndicates? If they eliminate these syndicates then there will be no minors involved in criminal activities run by syndicates," he said in a statement....
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