Because of Republic Act 7610 which prohibits accosting and heavy-handed actions against erring children, Republic Act 10630 and Republic Act 9344, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, children are spared from adult consequences of their crimes and are essentially free of repercussions.
Not if Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, has anything to say about it. She wants the parents of erring children to be accountable.
Senate Bill 3102, known as an “Act penalizing the parents or guardians for torts or crimes committed by their minor children or wards,” was filed by the lady Senator back in 2012.
“Because they have the primary right to rear their children in the manner they see fit, parents should also be held responsible for malicious acts committed by their children,” Santiago said in her explanatory note in the bill.
“This bill seeks to penalize the parents or guardians for the tortuous or criminal acts committed by their minor children or wards who are exempt from criminal liability, under Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” she added.
Under the bill, the parents or guardians would be held liable in the amount of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000 for the damages that are “the proximate result of anyone or a combination of the following acts of the minor child or ward:
- The malicious and willful injury to the person of another;
- The malicious and willful injury or damage to the property of another, whether the property be real, personal or mixed;
- The willful taking, stealing and carrying away of the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession;
- The exploitation of another minor child by using him, directly or indirectly, such as for purposes of begging and other acts which are inimical to his interest and welfare; and
- The possession, handling, or carrying of a deadly weapon, regardless of its ownership.
Santiago pointed out that in the states of Idaho, Maryland, Missouri and Oklahoma in the US, parents are already required to undertake restitution payments.
A number of states, she said, have enacted or proposed laws that will automatically hold parents financially responsible for all expenses associated with a second false bomb threat or 911 call made by a child; impose a prison term of up to 18 months and order payment of restitution to any victims if the child commits a serious crime; impose a fine and/or a prison term if a child uses a gun owned by the parent to commit a crime and a fine and/or imprisonment if a child fails to attend school or skips school more than 10 times in a year.
In the Philippines minor offenders aged 15 years old and below have no criminal liability. Offenders aged 16 to 17 years old, acting without discernment, are also exempt from criminal liability.
“Consequently, the offenders are not placed in detention cells but instead referred to rehabilitation centers. The younger ones are returned to their parents or guardians, or in their absence, to the nearest relative,” Santiago said.
“Thus, since the offenders are not arrested or charged in courts, it is believed that the element of accountability is sorely lacking to the detriment of victims of such crimes,” she added.
Santiago believes that once her proposed bill is passed, parents would spend more time and effort in monitoring the activities of their children “when they are fully aware that they will be held personally accountable for their children’s actions, through the payment for damages caused by any minor child.”