If the Philippine National Police will rule out if juvenile offenders should be held liable for their mischievous acts, the agency is determined to lower the criminal liability age to 15 years old.
According to PNP Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome, it is high time to review the existing legislation that safeguards minors aged 15 and below from being charged for a crime committed.
The chief director said involvement of young violators have been increasing, citing the ‘batang hamog’ gang that attacks innocent drivers and vehicle passengers during traffic jams, either to hurt them or snatch away the victims’ personal belongings.
In the current government’s mandate, minors are exempted from being jailed. When caught, they are only escorted to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for temporary counseling before sending them home to their parents.
The issue of revising the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (RA 9344), which ensures that minors aged 15 and below cannot be charged for any criminal liability, has become a hot topic. What is being questioned is the capacity of a minor to discern what is right from wrong and his full understanding of an illegal or punishable act.
Bartolome stressed that the PNP favors reducing the age of criminal liability to 15, especially those members of a syndicate. He claimed most of the 15-year-olds being manned by a gang already know what a crime is and should be held responsible for their actions.
He cited the worst case scenario of parents seeking their children to commit petty crimes to sustain their daily needs.
The expose’ on the modus operandi of the batang hamog has led to ongoing debates whether minors should be jailed or still be exempted from any punishment. RA 9344 is currently being talked about to weigh the pros and cons of the issues on minors’ criminal liability.