“BOY SUSPECT WOULD SOON BE ADULT, DOCUMENT REVEALS”

The 17-year-old suspect in the gruesome killing of 16-year-old Christine Lee Silawan escorted out of the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor's Office after the inquest proceedings. Photo by Leah Villagorda

By Tonton Alcos Antogop

The child suspect of the murder of Christine Lee Silawan will already be an adult in the next few days. This is according to a document obtained by iNews.ph.

The document is the Social Case Study Report of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) of Lapu-Lapu City. Under the name of the suspect is his birthdate; April 4, 2001, so by Thursday next week, April 4, 2019, he will be 18 years old already.

Atty. Anna Fionah Bojos who is a champion in women’s and children’s right said however that the age of reckoning should always be the “minority age” of the suspect when the alleged incident happened. “What is important is that he was a minor at the time of the alleged incident. RA 9344 will apply in his case,”

Bojos told iNews.ph. when asked on the effect of the age of the suspect on the murder charge that he is facing. Bojos who has worked closely with the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) said that even if the case progresses, the suspect should still be treated as a minor.

The same Social Case Study Report signed by social welfare officer Leticia Patalinghug and CSWDO head Ermelita Degamo stated that the child showed discernment in his actions. Regional Police Director Brigadier General Debold Sinas earlier commented that the report showing the discernment have an impact on the case saying, “So kung murder ang gi-file sa NBI, dili siya pwede maka invoke nga minor pa siya.

Kay ang assessment sa DSWD nga he will be charged as an adult already.” The report which indicated the age of the suspect is vital because under the Juvenile and Welfare Act of 2006, which Bojos has referred to all Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL) has exemption from criminal liability.

Those exempted are those who are 15 and under while those who are 15 but below 18 will also be exempted unless he/she has acted with “discernment (Sec. 6. Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility of RA 9344). So if he wil be 18 soon, that will be another interesting legal battle ground for the prosecution and defense of the suspect. Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor Ruso Zaragosa gave 60 days to resolve the murder complaint which was earlier filed by the National Bureau of Investigation so when the resolution will be out, the suspect will already be an adult.

If the prosecutor’s office will forward the complaint to the court, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-Cebu Province Chapter) will be among those who will appear in the prosecution side. The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in an unprecedented move by PAO chief Percida Acosta will also represent as counsel for the family of the victim Atty. Vincent Isles will be for the defense while Atty. Joan Abejo, the previous lawyer of choice of the suspect, might also corroborate.

The suspect is now under the custody of the Homecare for Children (HCC) in Lapu-Lapu City which is headed by Patalinghug. The celebrated murder case is being closely monitored by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. He ordered the re-arrest of the suspect who was released but Zaragoza managed to convince his family and Atty. Isles to just place him back to the HCC. Isles said that it was a voluntary submission for his client’s protective custody, describing it as the “best arrangement under the circumtance.”

The Social Case Study Report which revealed that the suspect in the Christine Lee Silawan murder will be 18 years old soon.