Bicam approval of juvenile justice bill hits snag

February 4, 2013 11:40 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Feb. 4 – The approval of the bill amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 hit snag on Monday at the bicameral conference committee level after House panel insisted on version reducing the age coverage of offenders to 12 years old.

”The House would like to reduce (from 15 years old) to 12 for all offenses. So that’s the problem. Other provisions? I think we have all agreed,” Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, a member of Senate panel to the bicam, said in media interview.

Pangilinan, one of the authors of the Senate version (Senate Bill 3324), said the Senate panel proposed to maintain 15-year-old but with mandatory and involuntary confinement process under Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) if the offenders committed serious offenses.

”Less than 15 percent of the offenses committed by minors are serious offenses. In other words, 85 percent are petty crimes. So that’s our concerns. If 15 percent is serious offenses, so not all 100 percent should be included,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said a Senate panel member proposed a compromise to file criminal charges if a minor aged 12 to 15 years old committed heinous offenses.

”That’s only a proposal. We will see if the House panel representatives will agree,” Pangilinan said.

”That’s the compromise that I can see right now. Let’s keep it 15 years old with the exception that if the offenses are serious, there may be criminal liability,” he added.

During the Monday’s bicam meeting, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Pia Cayetano opposed the proposal of the House panel to adopt its version which reduces the age coverage of minor offenders to 12 years old.

Despite the delay, Pangilinan remains confident the bicam will be able to approve the proposed bill before Congress adjourns later this week for a four-month election break. (PNA)



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