Duterte calls Pangilinan 'dumbest' lawyer over Juvenile Justice Law

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Duterte calls Pangilinan 'dumbest' lawyer over Juvenile Justice Law
"You are nothing. You are the dumbest lawyer I know," Duterte said in a speech in Palawan.
Geremy Pintolo / File

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday described Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as the “dumbest” lawyer for authoring the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

“Gaya niyang maghanap ka lang ng butas pero make sure that your argument is also better than mine because if you do not have anything to say except to criticize like Pangilinan, well I'm sorry, better shut up,” Duterte said in a speech during the first Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

“Wala ka talaga. Ikaw 'yung abogado nalaman kong pinakabobo sa lahat. (You are nothing. You are the dumbest lawyer I know.) I will — I'm not — I'm not trying to destroy him. But I will — in two minutes, I will destroy him. Makinig lang kayo (Listen to me),” he added.

'Children can get away with even genocide'

Duterte again brought up the passage of Republic Act 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare act of 2006, which he has blamed for rising crimes.

The president said Pangilinan is his friend but he laments the exemption of minors below 15 years old from criminal liability, citing that it causes great injustice.

Duterte also slammed the law for allegedly only leaving children in conflict with the law who are aged 16 and 17 at the hands of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

He said these minors only commit crime and get off scot-free.

The Juvenile Justice Law does not remove civil liability and holds that parents will be held jointly for the civil liability of their child.

Prior to this, the law only exempted children aged nine and below from criminal liability. Minor offenders were previously released to the custody of parents.

Duterte said thousands are being victimized by minors yet the law does not allow them to be prosecuted and charged.

“‘Yong pinasa ni --- sino 'tong p***** i**** 'to? Si... Pinasa niya ang batas sa juvenile law at tinaas niya from the indeterminate --- 'yung law noon. Fifteen years old, hindi mo makulong. Doon tayo nagkaroon ng great injustice,” Duterte said.

(The law passed by, who is this p***** i****? This... he passed the juvenile law and he raised the indeterminate... the law before. Fifteen years old, you cannot send them to jail. That's where we have a great injustice)

“Mag-isip lang kayo noon pa hindi pa panahon sa batas ni Pangilinan at ngayon --- ang nangyaring... Hindi mo talaga ma-detain ang bata whatever the crime may be. It could even be genocide. Walang sasagutin,” he added.

(Just think about the time before that law by Pangilinan was a law and now... and it's happening... You really cannot detain a child whatever the crime may be. It can even be genocide. There's no liability.)

Serious crimes under Juvenile Justice Act 

Under the 2006 law, which was amended in 2013, a child between 12 to 15 years old who commits serious crimes "shall be deemed a neglected child under Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, and shall be mandatorily placed in a special facility within the youth care faculty or ‘Bahay Pag-asa’ called the Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center."

Among the serious crimes that will mandate being placed in an Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center are:

  • Parricide
  • murder
  • infanticide
  • kidnapping and serious illegal detention where the victim is killed or raped
  • robbery, with homicide or rape, 
  • destructive arson,  
  • carnapping where the driver or occupant is killed or raped
  • offenses under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 punishable by more than 12 years of imprisonment

The same law holds that a child who is above 15 years and below 18 years old, if found to have been acting with discernment, can be subjected to a diversion program, which could include fines, counseling and "institutional care and custody."

Not all children in conflict with the law are eligible for a diversion program and the same law says there should be "a specially trained prosecutor to conduct inquest, preliminary investigation and prosecution of cases involving a child in conflict with the law." If necessary, charges can be filed before the Family Court. 

'Pontifical' Pangilinan law

This is not the first time Duterte criticized Pangilinan and the Juvenile Justice Law.

In September, Duterte said “pontifical” Pangilinan’s law removes the sense of accountability of minors.

“The entire Philippines for the last two decades, right after the — itong Pangilinan law, nagkalat. Kasi alam ninyo, pagka-minor, he goes out. ‘Pag sinabi niya, ‘I am just 14 years old,’ he goes out. Walang seremonya,” the president said in one of his speeches late September.

(The entire Philippines for the last two decades, right after the — this Pangilinan law, it has become a mess. Because you see, if he's a minor, he goes out. If he says 'I am just 14 years old,' he goes out. There's no ceremony.)

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III last September also filed a measure lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 13 or "above twelve years of age at the time of the commission of the crime."

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