For President Rodrigo Duterte, the law is to be blamed for the number of children out on the…
President Rodrigo Duterte misinforms the public anew in saying that the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act, also called the “Pangilinan Law” after its principal author, allows 15-year-olds to go “scot-free” no matter the crime.
In a speech during the 156th birth anniversary of Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio, Duterte again criticized opposition leader Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan while ranting about the country’s crime problem:
“Alam mo ba ‘yun si Pangilinan? Kayo, kayo lahat...bumilib kayo sa gunggong na ‘yan? ‘Yan ang...nag-ano ng batas na hindi mo mahuli [ang] (That Pangilinan? You all idolized that idiot? He’s the one who [made] the law that prohibits the arrest of [kids who are]) 15 years old. They go in and out of prison because of the Pangilinan law...They steal, they kill, they rape and kill. Whatever the crime is. They are scot-free.”
Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte During the 156th Birth Anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifcaio, Nov. 30, 2019, watch from 17:59 to 18:47
Contrary to the president’s claim, child offenders aged 15 to 18 who were proven to have acted with “discernment” may be held criminally liable and “subjected to appropriate proceedings” under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. (See VERA Files Fact Check: In one speech, Duterte unloads 9 false claims)
Discernment is defined by the Supreme Court as a child’s capacity to “understand the difference between right and wrong and the consequences of the wrongful act.” (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The proposed changes to the Juvenile Justice Law)
For instance, 12- to 15-year-olds who commit “serious crimes” -- such as murder, rape, or robbery with homicide -- must be placed in an intensive juvenile intervention and support center within a youth care facility for at least a year.
Official police data obtained by VERA Files show reported cases committed by children in conflict with the law (CICL) have been reduced by almost a fifth from 2016 to 2018, and made up only 2.3 percent of the total 473,068 crimes reported last year. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Three things you need to know about crimes committed by minors)
From January to November 2019, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded 9,573 crimes committed by minors. Reckless imprudence resulting in physical injury top the list at 1,780 or 18.59 percent of the total, followed by theft at 1,285 or 13.42 percent.
These two are also the top violations of minors recorded by the police for the full years of 2016 to 2018.
Violations of the comprehensive dangerous drugs act rank third, accounting for 913 or almost 10 percent of the crimes committed by minors reported from January to November this year. These violations may include the possession, use, or sale of illegal drugs.
In January 2017, Duterte said the juvenile justice law “produced a generation of criminals.” Official government data did not bear out his claim. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Did Pangilinan law produce a generation of criminals?)VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Arroyo changes stance on juvenile justice for Duterte)
Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte During the 156th Birth Anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifcaio, Nov. 30, 2019
Official Gazette, Republic Act 9344
Official Gazette, Republic Act 10630
Philippine National Police, Data on Reported Crimes Committed by Children in Conflict with the Law from 2016 to 2018
Philippine National Police, Data on Reported Crimes Committed by Children in Conflict with the Law from January to November 2019
Senate.gov.ph, Senate Bill 1402 - Legislative History
Congress.gov.ph, House Bill 5065 - History