Gov’t reiterates call to review juvenile justice law

MANILA – An official of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) called for a review of the Juvenile Justice Law to determine its effectivity.

During the latest Real Numbers press briefing at the Philippine Information Agency in Quezon City on Tuesday, PCOO Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael said the call for review is due to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) data, which showed that 1,001 children aged 9-17 have been tagged as drug pushers and rescued by authorities in anti-drug operations.

Rafael said the Duterte administration leaves the issue of determining the proper age of criminal liability to experts and policymakers in Congress.

“If we lower down the age of accountability for minors, because at age 17, they can go further, they can even kill. Nakikita po natin dito that pushers, yung age of discernment ng isang bata nowadays, by 15 kaya alam na niya ang tama at mali? (We can see that when children become pushers, we look at the age of discernment of a child nowadays. At age 15, does he/she know what is right or wrong?),” Rafael said.

In the same briefing, PDEA said authorities rescued 1,861 children allegedly involved in illegal drug operations since the start of the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said their agency’s rehabilitation program involving drug pushers, primarily those not involved in large syndicates, are combined efforts of various local government units and stakeholders.

Hindi po ito trabaho ng alagad ng batas (This is actually not a job for law enforcers.) This is thinking out of the box,” Carreon said.

For their part, the PNP said they support the measure to lower the age of criminal liability.

The PNP added that parents of children involved in criminal activities may be punished, citing Republic Act 7610.

“These children have no business selling drugs or being out-of-school. It is about time that we give this responsibility to our parents to take good care of their children.. We would like to see this law applied to parents seriously neglecting their children,” PNP deputy spokesperson PSupt. Kimberly Molitas said.

Molitas added that poverty should never be used as an excuse to commit crimes. Earl Jed Roque/