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‘Implement Juvenile Justice Act’

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Amid the failure of the 17th Congress to pass a bill to lower the minimum age for criminal responsibility, child advocates on Thursday expressed fear that the proposal would resume in the 18th Congress.

The Child Rights Network called on the 18th Congress to push for the full implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or Republic Act No. 9344, instead of amending the law, in a bid to lower the minimum age for criminal responsibility from 15 to 12.

The Act “already contains all the necessary components to prevent juvenile delinquency, address children who commit light and serious offenses, and provide intervention and rehabilitation for children in conflict with the law,” it said.

“The law does not need to be amended. It needs to be fully implemented—with the government providing all the necessary investments to establish much-needed youth facilities and provide community-based interventions and diversion programs for children,” it added.

The Senate and House of Representatives failed to pass the bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility due to the adjournment of the 17th Congress.

The group said “the fight is far from over.”

With President Rodrigo Duterte batting for the passage of the proposal, it believes the proposals to amend the law and lower the age of criminal liability would resume in the 18th Congress. 

“We thank the Senate for exercising prudence in considering Senate Bill 2198 and its various implications in the lives of Filipino children, instead of acting haphazardly and following the steps taken by the House of Representatives,” the Child Rights Network said in a statement.

It also thanked all civil society organizations representing various sectors, celebrities, public figures, ally legislators, the academe, church groups, students, professional organizations, thousands of Filipinos opposed the amendment of the law.

According to the group, it is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies with a membership of 47 organizations in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. 

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