Youth offenders

December 19, 2018

Criminals are getting younger despite an existing law against criminal activities perpetrated by minors.

We do not know whether this is triggered by poverty, hunger, misery, ignorance, violence on film and television and even in media.

Whatever the reason the rise in juvenile crime is a collective concern of society.

And so society must act in unison to address the problem.

Perhaps we should go back to the basics of teaching kids right from wrong, reward and punishment, damnation or salvation.

The younger they are taught these things, the better for them in later life.

And so 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. 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.