Vera Files fact-checked Duterte blaming Pangilinan law for promoting youth crime

President Rodrigo Duterte hit Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s juvenile law for producing “people with criminal minds,” in reference to Republic Act. No. 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act).
RA 9344, signed into law by former President Gloria Arroyo in 2006, sets the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 years old.

Duterte said that under the law, children aged 15 who committed crimes like robbery with homicide or rape are released back to the custody of their mothers, adding that Pangilinan was mistaken in copying the laws from abroad. He said that foreign laws mandated for these children to be sent to correctional facilities or halfway houses, “where they are lectured on responsibility and sense of accountability” for their crimes.

“The problem with Pangilinan was that he was too much in a hurry and had that law passed. That is why we produced about five to six generations of people who committed crimes and released on the same day irrespective of the gravity of the offense,” President Duterte said during his speech in front of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines in Malacañang on April 3.

“We have produced people who are of criminal minds and that is why it’s hard to stop the drug problem,” he said.

Duterte said that Pangilinan’s law was abused by criminals, who “used and reused and utilized” kids as couriers of shabu. He added that this generation is different from is, seeing as how the former no longer has fear to violate the law and has lost the sense of obedience.

This was not the first time Duterte blamed Pangilinan’s law for producing criminals. He also made the same accusation on December 12, 2016 at the 10 Outstanding Filipino Awards 2016.
“Ako I have the highest of respect for Pangilinan. But iyong law, liability, labas-pasok ang mga bata. You can ask any policeman or anyone connected with the law enforcement. We produce a generation of criminals.

Note this particular part of his speech in this RTVM video, from 31:44 to 34:23.

However, fact-checking organization Vera Files refuted that Duterte has no basis in making such a claim against RA 9344.

Vera Files said that DSWD data showed declining number of children in conflict with the law (CICL) after RA 9344 was passed into law. This number used to be 8,661 in 2006, but decreased to 2,759 after a year.

However, the DSWD said the numbers may not show the overall situation in the Philippines due to inconsistent record monitoring.

The DSWD tally from 2000 to 2013 was more about keeping track of kids who were required to undergo community-based services and prevention programs, such as socio-cultural and recreational activities, competency and life skills development, instead of focusing only on those who are admitted to rehab centers.

The agency only gathered data from regional rehab centers for children who committed a crime starting 2014.

Vera Files point out the inconsistent data from the PNP, as it showed an increasing trend from 2007 to 2014, although it declined by 4,437 in 2015.

Vera Files then asked, “What then could be Duterte’s basis in blaming the law given the lack of consistent and coherent government data on juvenile crimes?”

Duterte’s administration has been pushing for the lowering of the criminal age of liability from 15 to 9, a move which is opposed by the DSWD and CHR.

According to PNP’s data, juvenile crimes only represent 1.72% of the total number of reported crimes, most of which are considered as petty crimes.

Vera Files noted that drug use is not the most popular juvenile crime in the country, as per statistics. In 2015 alone, there were 4,114 cases of theft among juvenile crimes, 2,034 involving physical injury, and 1,074 cases of other crimes. Drug-related cases comprise only 2.7% or 288 cases of the 10,556 cases of juvenile crimes recorded in the same year.

Sources: ( , , )

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