THE recent admission of several minors that they robbed and killed a taxi driver raises the need to revisit and amend the juvenile justice law, a lawmaker said.
Cebu City Councilor Edgardo Labella said that while Republic Act (RA) 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 is a proactive measure designed to promote the best interest of the youth, it has also spurred juvenile delinquents to commit crime.
The Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) is checking all recent robberies, after the arrest last Wednesday of three minors and an 18-year-old.
The minors, alleged members of the Crips gang, said they robbed the driver because they wanted money to buy more drinks for the 17th birthday party of a fellow gang member.
“The disheartening precedence of many youth offenders who have been completely exempt from criminal liability may have again encouraged teenagers to commit crime,” said Labella.
Mandaue City Police Director Noel Gillamac ordered all station chiefs last Friday to review all robberies, especially those involving jeepneys and taxis, recorded in their blotters.
“I am also calling the attention of robbery victims from neighboring cities to visit our station and look at these suspects,” said Insp. Ramil Morpos of the Investigation and Detective Management Bureau (IDMB).
Under Section 6 of RA 9344, a child 15 years old or younger at the time of an offense shall be exempted from criminal liability.
Those above 15 years but below 18 shall likewise be exempted from criminal liability, but will be subjected to an intervention program.
Labella filed a resolution urging the Philippine National Police (PNP) to further conduct a comprehensive study on children in conflict with the law and take appropriate actions to statistically support the growing need to amend RA 9344.
“We are legitimately clamoring for changes in the law so that its main purpose will be achieved: to protect minors from their pliant tendencies toward delinquency,” he said.
The City Council will take up Labella’s resolution in its regular session on Friday.
Minors and teenagers have been blamed for recent heists, especially in Mandaue.
Also last July 21, taxi driver Felix Vergay pointed to Joren Mendoza, 19, as the one who took his P785 earnings and a cell phone at knifepoint.
Opao Police Chief Alfredo Ortiz and his team arrested Mendoza hours after the robbery, in a follow-up operation.
They found out three other taxi drivers also blamed Mendoza for robberies they recently suffered.
About 26 hours after a robbery last Thursday dawn in Barangay Tingub, IDMB operatives led by Chief Insp. Elmer Fernandez arrested 18-year-old Ronnie Ranile in Barangay Casuntingan, the 17-year-old alleged gunman and his 15-year-old girlfriend in Barangay Tipolo and another 17-year-old alleged accomplice in Barangay Maguikay.
Morpos said he got feedback from Barangay Cabancalan tanods and neighboring communities that these four may be the same group that victimized their residents who come home late at night.
The police officer is confident that by Monday, all affidavits and laboratory results will be ready for the filing of robbery with homicide charges against the four.