PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday called for a better system and program to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents.
“What is important here is the system and the program of the rehabilitation of the children,” Albayalde told in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel following the approval of the House of Representatives lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to 12 years old, instead of nine years old as earlier proposed.
Albayalde stressed that criminalizing minors needs a more careful study by concerned agencies as well as experts since there will always be a possibility that the children could only be victims of syndicates or even by their parents or guardians.
“We have to give children a chance to rehab themselves and probably to reintegrate them into the society and become productive citizens. We have to have programs, we have to have a good system,” he said.
However, Albayalde said the PNP will always enforce the law.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s temper rose when he learned of a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operation in Navotas City on January 6 when police rescued 12 minors, the youngest of was a 4-year-old, in a drug raid.
The President said it was unfortunate that a drug syndicate is using the minors in its operations.
PDEA chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino said they are set to file criminal charges for child abuse and neglect against the parents of the rescued minors.
Aquino said the parents are liable for violation of Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”
“Child neglect is the simplest form of child abuse. Parents or guardians are answerable if they are unable to protect their children against abuse, exploitation and discrimination, or worse, they are the ones committing such acts,” Aquino said, citing Section 2 of the Act.
According to the PDEA chief, the children belong to their homes under their parents’ care, not in the streets where they are exposed to danger at such a young age.
“PDEA emphasizes the important role of parents in keeping these kids off the streets. The parents, as head of the basic unit of society, must provide their children the basic services needed for a good quality of life,” Aquino added.