By: Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – S/Supt. Ricardo Dela Paz, police chief here, is joining the call for lawmakers to amend if not repeal the Pangilinan Law known as the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006.
Dela Paz issued the call noting the increasing number of juveniles in the city, the most recent of which was the 16-year-old minor who, together with an 18-year-old suspect, stabbed a prominent doctor 35 times causing the latter’s instantaneous death.
The minor even videotaped the crime while laughing and singing and even ended the video with a smile and wink.
Under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 authored by Pangilinan, however, no child 15 or younger may be charged for a criminal act—no matter how grave. Minors above 15 but below 18 may be held criminally liable only if they are shown to have acted with discernment.
Prior to the enactment of RA 9344, only children below nine years of age were exempt from criminal liability as stipulated in the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Children older than nine but younger than 16 were similarly discharged, unless it was shown they were aware that what they did was wrong; lawyers call this “discernment.”
Dela Paz said the matter of discernment on the case of the minor is being determined.
This as murder charges have been filed against the 16-year-old suspect.
However, in the court records the real name of the minor suspect was not stated, instead it was placed as “John Doe” as they are still waiting for the discernment report from the social worker of the Social Development Center.
He said they will only include the name of the minor after the social worker has submitted the discernment report in 30 days.
Last week, murder charges were also filed against the other suspect, Pof Pascual, 18, of Brgy. Tadlong, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, before the RTC.
The filing of the charges against Pascual and the minor were both recommended by inquest prosecutor finding prima face evidence that the doctor was killed on May 10 by the assailants as shown on the video in the 16-year-old’s cellular phone.