INSTEAD of putting children in jail at the young age, SPO3 Egmedio Felisan Jr. suggested the establishment of more centers for children in conflict with the law (CICL), before any changes in the present juvenile justice law will be introduced.
He said the putting up centers for CICLs is mandated under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, or Republic Act 9344.
“We have yet to perfect the implementation of RA 9344 and we will create another policy again? I think we should focus first on that law and amend it, if needed,” he said.
At present, Felisan said that the only local government unit that has center for CICL is Cebu City.
The police officer, who used to be a CICL and who was among the pioneering minors sheltered at the Cebu City Community Scouts Center in Cebu City, pointed out that children should not be tagged as criminals.
“I, for one, can attest that is very hard on our part when someone calls us criminals. On my part, when I committed the crime of stealing, I didn’t know that it was already a crime because for me, I was only answering the call of my body. I was hungry, so I was looking for food at that time,” he said.
When he was eight years old, Felisan, who used to roam around the streets near the port area in Cebu City, was reported to the police for stealing.
After he successfully managed to overcome his trials in life, Felisan is now an advocate of children who promotes their welfare by partnering with non-government organizations in doing works for them.
Felisan said proper guidance from the parents or guardians is needed to guide the minors to the right path and they should not be jailed.
“It’s a big no to that bill because children are not criminals. If there’s a need to take them in custody, it should not be in jails but in centers where complete interventions are there,” he added.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 said it will be issuing a statement on the issue of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility once the Camp Crame is done with its study.
PRO 7 Director Noli Taliño said that the police force in Central Visayas will support whatever will be the stand of their higher headquarters.