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New Juvenile justice law signed

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino signed into law a measure that seeks to protect youth offenders and a bill that imposes harsher penalties on those who maltreat or torture animals.

Signed into law last Oct. 3, Republic Act 10630 amends the Juvenile Justice System and Welfare Act of 2006.

But the new law did not change the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which remains at 15. This means that a child who is 15 years old or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall remain exempt from criminal liability. However, the offender shall be subjected to an intervention program of the government.

Some sectors have called on Congress to amend the provisions on the minimum age of liability, noting that offenders are getting younger.

But the Department of Social Welfare and Development is not in favor of such amendment, saying that children in conflict with the law are also victims.

Malacañang, for its part, believes that the new law has enough provisions to address the concerns of all sectors.

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“There are enough provisions in the existing law that would balance the concerns of some who are in favor of lowering the age of liability,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

Under the new law, a child above 15 years old but below 18 years old can also be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program unless he has acted with discernment.

The exemption from criminal liability, however, does not include exemption from civil liability.

The new law also creates regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Councils to ensure effective implementation of the law in the local level.

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