Press Release
May 2, 2006

Juvenile Justice Bill now a law

The landmark bill addressing the plight of thousands of children in jail sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan in the Senate is now a law, after President Arroyo signed the measure last April 28, 2006 before the 30-day prescription period lapsed. The Juvenile Justice Bill is now R.A. 9344.

I am elated by the signing of the Juvenile Justice Bill into law because this piece of legislation is crucial to the welfare of thousands of children who are suffering detention along with adult criminals. These children are experiencing the horrid conditions of incarceration; each days delay encountered in ensuring the full implementation of the law is a day too late for thousands of children inside prison. The bills passage is long overdue and we are thankful that children in jail are given the hope and a lease for a better future. I thus urge the DOJ and the DSWD to immediately convene the council without further delay to pave the way for the immediate implementation of the law, Kiko said.

Among the salient points of R.A. 9344 is the creation of a welfare council under the Department of Justices administrative supervision, headed however by an undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The law also provides that children 15 years and below will be criminally exempt while youth offenders aged 15 to 18 years old can only be criminally charged if they acted out the crime with discernment. It also outlines the immediate turn over of children in conflict with the law to social workers upon apprehension.

The task of instituting a comprehensive system to address children locked up in adult jails proved long and complex but we finally saw the completion of this important piece of legislation. I laud the efforts of the various agencies and networks which have worked closely with us to push for the passage of the measure. We will certainly be vigilant so that children in conflict with the law will be released from jails the soonest time possible. We will see to it that the provisions of the law are implemented efficiently so that our children will soon enjoy their childhood decently in the cradle of restorative justice, Kiko ended.

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