Press Release
January 26, 2019

Drilon says amendments to Juvenile justice law should focus on implementation

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon urged the Senate to take a serious look at the implementation of the current Juvenile and Justice Welfare Act (JJWA) or Republic Act 9344, before it moves to bring down the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15.

In a radio interview with DzRH on Saturday, Drilon said that what was clear in the Senate hearing into measures seeking to bring down the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 was that RA 9344 has not been properly implemented.

"We sought a review of the law precisely to determine whether or not the law is being implemented properly. Having heard the resource persons and experts expound on their opinion on JJWA and possible amendments to the law, it is clear to us now that the current law has not yet realized its full potential and the debates we are having now is a result of the poor or non-implementation of the law," Drilon said.

"Based on our hearings, I am convinced that there is nothing wrong with the current law or Republic Act 9344. The problems lie in the implementation of the law and that is what the amendments should focus on," Drilon stressed.

Drilon expressed dismay and serious concern that there are major provisions of the law that were not properly implemented, particularly with regard to the establishment and maintennance of youth rehabilitation centers or Bahay Pag-asa throughout the country.

The minority leader said that JJWA mandated the establishment of Bahay Pag-asa for youth in conflict with the law, in all provinces and chartered cities in the country.

However during the hearing, it was revealed that only 55 Bahay Pag-asa have been constructed and of which, only 48.2 percent are operational as of June 2018.

Drilon said that it appears that local government units (LGUs) are not even conscious of their obligation to maintain the Bahay Pag-asa.

"This is a more pressing concern because there was serious neglect on the part of the local government units, which are mandated by the law to implement and maintain youth rehabilitation centers throughout the country," Drilon said.

Hence, Drilon said, "The current Juvenile and Justice Welfare Act has not fully realized its potential because of non-implementation, or lack of funding support to implement it."

Drilon said there was no budget for the construction and roll out of Bahay Pag-asa centers and other diversion programs under the General Appropriations Act.

He thus vowed to put an amendment in 2019 budget during the bicam hearing to provide funds for construction and maintenance of Bahay Pag-asa.

Drilon said that efforts and resources should be directed at the full implementation of the law.

"Before we amend the law, let's give the current law a chance. With the stricter implementation and monitong of the law, we can achieve the goal that we set in the law," Drilon concluded.

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