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Jailing kids no answer to rising criminality, says DSWD exec

May 23, 2012 ·  By Leila B. Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Jailing kids no answer to rising criminality, says DSWD exec

Usec. Bala (left) responds to questions from the media on CICL during the media forum held at Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City. Also in the photo are Secretary De Lima and National Youth Commission Chairman Leon Flores III.

The Philippines will not solve the problem of rising criminality by sending more children to jail., The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC) has opposed a House bill seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to over 12 years old., The House of Representatives on Monday passed on second reading House Bill 6052, which would allow the criminal prosecution of children who are just over 12 if they had acted with discernment.

The bill seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice Law, or Republic Act No. 9344, which states that children 15 years old or younger are exempted from criminal liability., Alicia Bala, a Department of Social Welfare and Development undersecretary who chairs the JJWC, said prosecuting children as young as 12 would also signify that the authorities had given up on the children., Bala said it was too early to judge the Juvenile Justice Law because it had yet to be implemented properly., “It is premature to judge RA 9344 and submit it to amendment.

More critically, it’s unfair to the children because it is as if we’ve given up on them. We have no basis to say that RA 9344 is not effective simply because we have not fully implemented it,” Bala said in a statement., According to her, the problem of rising criminality would not be fixed by sending erring children to jail. She said children in conflict with the law should not be treated by the state as hardened criminals but as victims of circumstances beyond their control.

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