House Bill to impose stiffer penalty against irresponsible parents or guardians

Street KidsA boy accidentally killed his playmate using the gun of his father while a girl who was left unattended by her guardian was killed in a vehicular accident. These are among the incidents that have landed in the front pages of newspapers.

Alarmed, Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez (Party-list, YACAP) filed House Bill 5322 imposing a stiffer penalty against irresponsible parents or guardians.

"The bill seeks to prosecute and penalize to the full extent of the law, parents who are irresponsible in the performance of their duties to their children. It is easy to become a parent but it is very difficult to act as a parent," Lopez said.

Lopez said the bill encourages parents to spend more time with the young and be more attentive to their children to decrease crimes committed by minors.

Acts to be considered as crimes are failure of parents or guardians to provide proper education to their minor children, allowing their children to loiter, play or wander unsupervised by an adult in public, in motor vehicles, in traffic, and accident prone areas like streets.

Violator faces a jail term of four years and a fine of not more than P60,000 or both at the discretion of the court.

Also considered as a criminal act under the bill is the failure of the parents to seek assistance or intervention to "children at risk" as defined under Section 4(d) of Republic Act 9344 with the community based programs under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare system or any juvenile intervention program of the local government unit concerned.

The bill provides further that parents who have failed to comply with the appropriate diversion programs and conditions established by the local social worker concerned in cases of “children in conflict with the law” as defined under Section 4(e) of RA 9344 and failing to prevent the minor from being a member of a street gang shall be penalized of imprisonment of not more than 16 years and a fine of not more than P80,000, at the discretion of the court.

"Parents or guardians who failed to secure their firearms and became accessible to minors and whose children have engaged or participated in any criminal activity, the penalty corresponding to the felony or crime committed by the minor shall be imposed upon the parents or guardians," Lopez said.

"The parent/guardian found liable shall be required to undergo counseling by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)," Lopez said. "Should there be more than one minor involved; one minor is considered one violation."