Iloilo City–Lone District Representative Jerry P. Treñas filed a bill to deter children from engaging in criminal activity. The Protection Against Juvenile Criminal Exploitation Act shall hold liable minors aged 12 and above who engage in prohibited activities, lowering the minimum age for criminal liability. Minors convicted of committing crimes punishable by life imprisonment or those considered as grave offenses under the Revised Penal Code are to be presumed as to have acted with discretion in order for criminal liability to attach.
Minors are being recruited to join street gangs in order to commit crimes because criminal liabilities do not attach to those below the age of majority. Treñas observed that criminals are taking advantage of the exemption of youth offenders from criminal liability by recruiting minors to do their dirty work.
“We have a responsibility not only to secure society from rampant criminality, but also to deter criminals from even entertaining the thought of committing a crime, be they young or old.” says Treñas. The Iloilo City Congressman also seeks to punish the organizers and officers of criminal juvenile organizations, noting that street gangs are now requiring minors to commit murder as part of its initiation rites. In addition, Treñas wants the parents who command, encourage, or allow their minor children to engage in criminal activities to face jail time and to lose custody of their children.
“The children are not only criminal in these cases, but victims of the inducement of their parents and elders,” Treñas noted. He also said that gangs recruiting minors and requiring them to kill people as part of their initiation rites are already prevalent in the United States and Latin America, and that this deplorable culture of introducing children to violence and lawlessness had already reached Philippine shores.