Judge alarmed over cases vs minors, says RA 9433 violated

Judge Lily Laguindanum of the Regional Trial Court Branch 24 in Midsayap town said that complaints against minors with ages ranging between 15 and 17 years old and with an 'imposable' penalty of not more than six years in jail were still reaching the courts.

She said the filing of these complaints violate the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9344.

She stressed these cases should not be filed in court, although the offenders should undergo an intervention program of the government.

But most local government units, including North Cotabato, lack temporary shelter and crisis intervention centers for children in conflict with the law.

In a forum held Friday at the capitol rooftop here, tt was also noted that many law enforcers and social welfare workers handling cases of minors have insufficient training and knowledge of the law.

Close to 100 trial court judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and social workers from all over the province attended the forum organized by the Office of the Provincial Governor and the provincial board.

The forum participants agreed to organize an interim committee tasked to conduct training for police, lawyers, and prosecutors on laws protecting children, including RA 9262 or the Anti-Domestic Violence Against Women and their Children Act; RA 9208 or the Anti-Child Trafficking Act; and RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.

Immediately, the interim committee drafted four resolutions that aim to address the problem of child abuse and juvenile delinquency in the province.

These include a resolution asking the provincial government to establish a rehabilitation center and crisis intervention center in every town as temporary shelters for child abuse victims and youthful offenders.

Another resolution requested Governor Jesus Sacdalan to require all municipal budget officers to submit a copy of their budget showing the mandatory one percent internal revenue allotment (IRA) for purposes mandated in RA 9344.

Judge Laguindanum urged the provincial board to allocate funds for the training of important line agencies that handle cases of child abuse and children in conflict with the law.

The committee also asked Cotabato 2nd district Rep. Bernardo Pinol, Jr to draft a bill creating a family court in the province.  (MindaNews)