What is RA 9344 all about, as amended by Republic Act [RA] No. 10630
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What is RA 9344 all about, as amended by Republic Act [RA] No. 10630?

In this discussion, we shall tackle what is RA 99341 all about, as amended by RA No. 10630.2 Today, it is very noticeable that many young individuals, and minors at that, are committing crimes such as robbery, drug related cases, homicide, arson, rape, and sometimes, up to extent of murder.

The Philippine government is one bit nearer to indicting small kids as grown-ups. A legislative panel endorsed a bill that would bring down the time of criminal obligation from 15 to 9.

On the off chance that the Senate follows through on its guarantee to pass this reform, and it’s endorsed into law by the president, this would presumably demolish the propensity of Filipino youngsters to commit unimaginable offense. They cannot hide anymore, and be leisurely free, under the cloak of minority.

To manage youth guilty parties, few legislators are wanting to make kids as youthful as nine criminally responsible. The program has been meticulously examined on what is driving this proposition. This probably aims to lessen the criminality incurred by the youth.

The National Commission on Human Rights has already claimed that “punishing children for the crime and abuse of syndicates and other people is against the state’s responsibility to look after the interests and welfare of children.”

What is the goal of RA 9344?

In the Philippines, it is undeniable that, when we are in huge and urbanized cities, lots of individuals are using rugby, or even drugs, in their young age, whether they are aware or not of their wrongful actions will be a lingering question.

The thing that comes in our mind is whether their parents know what their children are engaging into, instead of making themselves busy at school and learning something therein that will eventually be very helpful to their growth.

Republic Act No. 9344, as amended by RA 10630 or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act” defines the Juvenile Justice and Welfare System as a that dealing with children at risk and those children in conflict with the law [CICL].

This law provides child-appropriate proceedings, including programs and services for prevention, diversion, rehabilitation, re-integration and aftercare to ensure their normal growth and development.

Within the Philippines, the Congress had passed bills expecting to form laws more steady attuned with the Philippines promotion of adolescents’ welfare.

In as much as the Philippines ought to be concerned with a juvenile equity framework in harmony with worldwide approaches, the prevailing goal is to attain a standard national approach on CICL instead of a precise propagation of a worldwide show on them.

R.A. No. 9344 has institutionalized the advancement of the well being of their families, inclusion of guardians and gatekeepers, advancement of preoccupation, dodging hardship of liberty, and ensuring the protection rights of children.

On the other hand, R.A. No 10630 has advanced and stressed the child-sensitive equity approaches centered on the most personal attributes and archetype of the child and his psychological predisposition.

As provided in the constitution, children have the right to be protected from any form of abuse, exploitation, and separation. We have seen these a number of times on a court related proceedings, whether criminal or civil actions.

Several known personalities and political leaders have voiced out regarding the revision of RA 9344. They believe that the original version of the law does not properly address the criminality where minors are the perpetrators themselves.

Then Senator Escudero, the former Chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, advocated the revisions of law for the benefit of the youth and for the benefit of the society. He has tapped the assistance of other leaders to support his advocacy, included also is the  Philippine National Police (PNP).

Even former Vice-President Jejomar Binay, being the former mayor of Makati City, has agreed for amendment of the law noting that in Makati City, during his time as Mayor thereof, rape and trafficking of  minors had been rampant.

As a matter of fact, former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, has agreed to correct the act and lower the age from 15 to 9 years old focusing out “criminal syndicates, especially those managing in drugs and burglary. They were taking advantage of adolescent wrongdoing laws by using children to carry out their sinister objectives.

Can you file a case against a minor in the Philippines? 

At the outset, it must be emphasized that RA 10630 clarified the “15 years old requirement or the minimum age of criminal responsibility”. The law states now that:

Section 3. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 9344 is hereby amended to read as follows:3

“SEC. 6. Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility. – A child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability. However, the child shall be subjected to an intervention program pursuant to Section 20 of this Act.4

A child is deemed to be fifteen (15) years of age on the day of the fifteenth anniversary of his/her birthdate.5 [Underscoring supplied]

“A child above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18) years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with this Act.6

“The exemption from criminal liability herein established does not include exemption from civil liability, which shall be enforced in accordance with existing laws.”7

Republic Act No. 9344, as amended by RA 10630, defines the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act” as a system dealing with children at risk or and children in conflict with the law, which provides child-appropriate proceedings, including programs and services for prevention, diversion, rehabilitation, re-integration and aftercare to ensure their normal growth and development.8

The main concern of this Act is to prevent the actionable criminal case against the rights of the children which the Constitution recognized. The 2019 Supreme Court Revised Rule on Children in Conflict with Law recognizes this children’s rights. Thus:

“Section 2. Objective. — The objective of this Rule is to ensure that the justice system treats every child in conflict with the law in a manner that recognizes and upholds human dignity and worth,  and instills in the child respect for the fundamental rights and freedom of others. The Rule considers the developmental age of the child and the desirability of the child’s reintegration in and assumption of a constructive role in society in accordance with the principles of balanced and restorative justice”.9

Simply put, a minor nine (9) years and above but under fifteen (15) years of age at the time of the commission of the offense shall be committed to the care of his father or mother, or nearest relative or family friend, in the sound discretion of the court and subject to its supervision.

However, if the minor is 15 years old and 1 day to 18 years old and if the he has acted with discernment in the commission of a particular offense, he shall be proceeded against in accordance with Sections 24 to 28, or 36 to 40 of the aforesaid Rule, as the case may be, and subjected to a delinquency prevention program as determined by the court.10

Exemption from criminal liability does not include exemption from civil liability which shall be enforced in accordance with the provisions of Article 221 of the Family Code in relation to Article 101 of the Revised Penal Code and Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.11

Is a child liable for a crime committed by him? 

As a rule, when a child has committed a crime, the following shall be observed in accordance of the Section 6 [as amended by Section 6 of RA 10630], and Section 7 of the Republic Act No. 9344. In RA 10630, Section 6 of RA 9344 has been modified to clarify the exact day when a child turns 15 years old.

In Section 7 of RA 9344, it provides that:

“SEC. 7. Determination of Age. – The child in conflict with the law shall enjoy the presumption of minority. He/she shall enjoy all the rights of a child in conflict with the law until he/she is proven to be eighteen (18) years old or older. The age of a child may be determined from the child’s birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any other pertinent documents. In the absence of these documents, age may be based on information from the child himself/herself, testimonies of other persons, the physical appearance of the child and other relevant evidence. In case of doubt as to the age of the child, it shall be resolved in his/her favor.”12

To continue, the same provision provides the manner upon which the age of the child can be contested. Hence:

Any person contesting the age of the child in conflict with the law prior to the filing of the information in any appropriate court may file a case in a summary proceeding for the determination of age before the Family Court which shall decide the case within twenty-four (24) hours from receipt of the appropriate pleadings of all interested parties.13

If a case has been filed against the child in conflict with the law and is pending in the appropriate court, the person shall file a motion to determine the age of the child in the same court where the case is pending. Pending hearing on the said motion, proceedings on the main case shall be suspended.14

In all proceedings, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and other government officials concerned shall exert all efforts at determining the age of the child in conflict with the law.15

What is the purpose of Republic Act 9344?

The purpose of the Act is to establishing a comprehensive Juvenile Justice And Welfare System and the creation of the Juvenile Justice And Welfare Council, necessary to protect the rights of a child, especially the CICL. This is further buttressed and amplified in the policy of the State embodied in RA 9344, to wit:

To recognize the vital role of children and youth in nation building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.16

To protect the best interests of the child through measures that will ensure the observance of international standards of child protection, especially those to which the Philippines is a party. Proceedings before any authority shall be conducted in the best interest of the child and in a manner which allows the child to participate and to express himself/herself freely. The participation of children in the program and policy formulation and implementation related to juvenile justice and welfare shall be ensured by the concerned government agency.17

To recognize the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty and exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development.18

To recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, adjudged, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, taking into account the child’s age and desirability of promoting his/her reintegration. Whenever appropriate and desirable, the State shall adopt measures for dealing with such children without resorting to judicial proceedings, providing that human rights and legal safeguards are fully respected. It shall ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being by providing for, among others, a variety of disposition measures such as care, guidance and supervision orders, counseling, probation, foster care, education and vocational training programs and other alternatives to institutional care.19

Final Thoughts  

A child, as we know, can commit crimes that are punishable under the Revised Penal Code. When the RA 9344 is still not in effect, if a child commits a crime, he or she was treated like an adult offender. Yet, certain mitigation were also applied and recognized, under existing laws at that time, because of their minority..

RA 9344 and its amendatory law, RA 10630, provides for the avenue to respect the rights of children, especially those who are termed as CICL or Children in Conflict with the Law. Moreover, being progressive as the criminal justice system is, the age of criminal responsibility of the minors has been increased from nine (9) before [Revised Penal Code] to fifteen (15).

Family Courts shall have and exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving children in conflict of law. The Regional Trial Court is vested with he jurisdiction in places where there is no family court.

When the court has convicted the child in conflict of the law, instead of serving time in prison, he shall serve in an agricultural camp and other training facilities that may be supervised by the Bureau of Correction, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

R.A. No. 9344 and its amendatory law regulate the advancement of children’s welfare and their families or guardians, integration and diversion. It veers away from hard punishment. In turn, the laws’ aim is to secure the protection and privileges of children.

  1. RA 9344[]
  2. RA 10630[]
  3. Section 3, RA 10630[]
  4. Id.[]
  5. Id.[]
  6. Id.[]
  7. Id.[]
  8. Section 4[m], RA 9344[]
  9. A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC[]
  10. Ibid.[]
  11. Section 3, RA 10630, Supra.[]
  12. Section 7, RA 9344[]
  13. Id.[]
  14. Id.[]
  15. Id.[]
  16. Section 2a, Republic Act 9344[]
  17. Section 2b, Id.[]
  18. Section 2c, Id.[]
  19. Section 2d, Id.[]

RALB Law | RABR & Associates Law Firm

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