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PDEA: Prioritize intervention programs for youth offenders.

Intervention programs for children in conflict with the law (CICL) must be prioritized over determining the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino said on Wednesday.

'For PDEA, it doesn't matter whether it's nine, whether it's 12, whether it's 15.Angimportantepo 'yong intervention namagagawasamgakabataan, namasagipito, at mandatorily madalaitosaisang center for child care,' Aquino told reporters after PDEA filed cases against parents of children caught in a drug den in Navotas.

(What's important is the kind of intervention that children will receive.It is mandatory that they be brought to care facilities).

''Yan angimportante 'don, mag-conduct ng intervention at diversion sabatapara eventually, they would become productive citizens,' he added.

(That's what's important. Intervention and diversion activities must be conducted so that they eventually become productive citizens).

Age debate

The proposal to lower the MACR from 15 to nine, and eventually, 12, has sparked widespread debates, with children rights advocates denouncing lawmakers supporting the move.

According to different child rights organizations, lowering MACR is detrimental to a child's development as facilities supposed to house CICLs are not fit for human beings.

That is aside from claims that R.A. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 has not been fully implemented, with only a small percentage of BahayPag-asa - shelters for CICLs as mandated by the law - have been set up or have passed standards.

Last Monday, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 8588 on the third and final reading.

If enacted, HB 8588 would set the MACR at 12 years old.

Originally, the proposal by the House was to bring it further down to nine, but pressure from civil society groups prompted lawmakers to change it before it was approved on second reading.

Earlier, PDEA filed criminal complaints against parents of 12 minor drug suspects caught in a drug raid in Navotas.

Aquino said that the parents neglected their responsibility when they allowed their children to roam around the drug den inside the NavotasFishport in Barangay North Boulevard.

Authorities claimed the minors, some as young as four, were being used as drug runners.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 30, 2019
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