Lawmaker moves to neutralize criminal juvenile groups using minors PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 30 June 2012 14:25

Beware of criminal juvenile organizations (CJOs) masquerading as “fraternities.”

This is a warning to the country’s youth and their parents from Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, who is seeking for the passage of the “Protection against Juvenile Criminal Exploitation Act” under House Bill 3815 pending with the House committee on justice.

“We live in dangerous times. Criminals are becoming younger, more cunning, and less concerned about the legal repercussions of their actions. Scoundrels of society have opted to take advantage of the youth,” he lamented.

Treñas said minors have been recruited to join criminal juvenile organizations under the guise of being called “fraternities” or any other moniker that gives them a semblance of legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

The bill defines a criminal juvenile organization as a group of individuals, either publicly acknowledging itself as an existing organization or operating as an underground belligerent society, its membership includes at least one member below the age of majority, and requires or abets the commission of criminal acts as part of its activities and/or initiation rites.

“These groups are nothing but street gangs, most of which are probably under the control of criminal syndicates. Let’s not allow the youth to be made pawns doing the dirty and heinous work of these vicious criminals,” Treñas said.

Under Republic Act 9344 or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” minors 15 years of age and below are exempted from criminal liability, and only allows criminal punishment for minors above 15 to below 18 years of age if it is proven that they acted with discernment.

“Unfortunately, criminals have taken advantage of this law by employing minors to do their bidding,” Treñas said.

“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. It seems that this deplorable culture of introducing children to violence and lawlessness has already reached Philippine shores,” he added.

Under the bill, any person violating the provisions of the proposed statute, including minors aged 12 and above who acted with discernment shall be criminally liable.

Any minor who belongs to a criminal juvenile organization, aged 12 and above, who performs a grave felony, as defined by the Revised Penal code, or a prohibited act punishable by death or life imprisonment under special penal laws, is presumed to have acted with discernment upon commission of such
criminal act.

The penalties range from six months to 20 years without prejudice to additional penalties that may be imposed if the person is found to be a principal by inducement or to be in conspiracy in any crime that was committed by any member of a criminal juvenile organization.

The penalties would depend whether you are a minor, organizer, maintainer and operator of the CJO, those profiting from its operations, those commanding or encouraging the commission of the crime, including parents or legal guardians who violate the provisions of the proposed Act.