By ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY (September 15, 2011) – The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act has not been fully implemented yet, according to Manuel Co, chief of Parole and Probation administration at the sidelines of the Third Parole and Probation Executive Conference held in this city until last Saturday.
Finger pointing about the flaws of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, specifically the increasing number of children-in-conflict with the law (CIL), is misplaced, said Co, who was once a member of the technical working group of House’s version of Republic Act 9344.
“The intent of the law is really good,” Co said, but he insisted that resources need to be provided to realize the law’s intent.
He said that the RA 9344’s definition of child offenders vis-à-vis minority age has gaps like in counter-checking the age. Perhaps, “we should even launch a clinical study on the Philippine setting about what is really on the minds of nine-year olds and 12-year olds,” he said.
Other components of RA 9344, such as having Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPC) right in their villages, should materialize, said Co, because the villages are the ultimate recourse of CILs (children in conflict with the law) as they go home. These play important roles in moulding, training and guiding the young.
Perhaps, the country needs to increase the number of “holding youth centers” for rehabilitating the young, Co added.
Co also proposed stiffer penalties for syndicates found to be using children and the young.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan also claimed he has had enough of the police using as scapegoats for their failure to implement the so-called “Pangilinan Law” the said syndicates who use minors. Pangilinan said “the PNP should go after the syndicates instead of simply pinning the blame on the minors and the (law).”
“The easiest thing to do is blame the law or the minors and in the process let these syndicates go scot-free,” Pangilinan pointed out.
Sen. Pangilinan asked: “Is this their agenda? Absolve the criminal syndicates? If they eliminate these syndicates then there will be no minors involved in criminal activities run by syndicates.”
The lawmaker raised another question in the failure of law enforcers to properly implement (the law) “Could some elements of the PNP be conniving with these syndicates, explaining why they don’t want to crush these syndicates? Do they have a sharing agreement of the loot? I don’t want to think that all the PNP can control are minors?”
“Why is it that the PNP is training its gun on the most marginalized and abused?” Pangilinan asked.
The solon reiterated, “these minors are victims of exploitation and abused by criminal syndicates. For the PNP to pin the blame on these minors and the law is to victimize these children all over again.”