Duterte warns youth offenders: leave Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 March) – Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has warned young  offenders to “leave Davao as soon as possible” to avoid trouble or possible death.

In his Sunday television program, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” (From the masses, for the masses),  Duterte also warned parents of youth offenders  to make them leave the city or work in Sabah.

“Pahawaa na or patrabahua sa Sabah,” (Let them leave or make them work in Sabah,” Duterte addressed the parents.

Duterte said he hopes the Commission on Human Rights and other rights advocates understand  that the warning is not about “salvage” (summary executions). He explained it is “standard police practice” that offenders are under surveillance and if they commit another crime, they could get into trouble or even get killed.

“Dakpan mo, you try to make a go for it, patay mo, mapusilan mo,” (you could be caught and if you try to make a go for it, you could be shot and killed), he addressed the young offenders.

Duterte, who was mayor when Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 was passed, had repeatedly appealed to Congress to amend the law, claiming it encourages youth offenders to commit crimes “with impunity.”

Section 6 of the law on minimum age of criminal responsibility, provides that children 15 years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense “shall be exempt from criminal liability”  but shall be subjected to an intervention program.

Children between 15 and 18  “shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment,” in which case, they shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings under the law.

The law, introduced by Senator Francis Pangilinan,   covers the different stages involving children at risk and children in conflict with the law — from prevention to rehabilitation and reintegration.

Pursuant to Article 40 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the law  “recognizes 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.”

It also provides that “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” and that children as “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.”

Since the law’s passage in 2006, Duterte had repeatedly said it does not help solve the problem on young offenders but instead  “compounded” the situation.

In January 2007, Duterte cited complaints by judges and police on the law’s flaws. He said it does not provide an agency that would receive and deal with the children in conflict with the law.

He also said he agrees with the intention to rehabilitate the offenders but said  government lacks funds.

On Sunday, Duterte said there are children who have repeatedly committed crimes but are able to get away with it because of the law.

He said parents know their children are committing crimes. Instead of crying and shouting for justice if something happens to their children, they should “make them leave or let them work in Sabah.”  (MindaNews)