Duterte calls Kiko Pangilinan 'dumbest lawyer' over Juvenile Justice Law

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Duterte blames Pangilinan anew for "great injustice" in the country due to his juvenile law. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — The President erupted in a tirade against Senator Kiko Pangilinan, while addressing his critics on Saturday.

President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the senator's intelligence for continued criticism of his administration and sponsoring the law, which raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 15.

Duterte was responding to critics in a speech during the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in Palawan, when he mentioned the Liberal Party president in spite.

"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 Saturday.

Duterte called him one of the least intelligent lawyers, adding that he could "destroy" Pangilinan in a matter of minutes.

"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," he said.

Duterte cited Republic Act 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which raises the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from nine to 15, which the senator authored.

"Pinasa niya ang batas sa juvenile law…Fifteen years old, hindi mo makulong. Doon tayo nagkaroon ng great injustice," he said.

[Translation: He passed the juvenile law. You can no longer apprehend a 15 year-old. That's where we had great injustice.]

Duterte mentioned instances where teenagers would be caught committing rape and homicide only to be released in-and-out of jail since they cannot be prosecuted.

"Labas-pasok all throughout of the country. Ang nagkasala, rape with homicide, balewala…Mag-isip lang kayo noon pa hindi pa panahon sa batas ni Pangilinan at ngayon... Hindi mo talaga ma-detain ang bata whatever the crime may be. It could even be genocide. Walang sasagutin," he said.

[Translation: In-and-out all throughout of the country. Those who commit rape wit homicide, ignored…Think of the time when it was before Pangilinan's law and compare it to now…You cannot detain a child whatever the crime may be. It could even be genocide and he/she won't answer to it.]

RA 9344 states that if children are caught in possession of illegal substances, the social welfare department must take them into custody for rehabilitation.

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III filed a measure in September to amend the law, lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 13 or "above twelve years of age at the time of the commission of the crime."

The bill received support from the President and the Philippine National Police but drew flak from human rights groups such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), who called the move a "giant leap backward."

Duterte first slammed Pangilinan for his juvenile justice law in September, but Pangilinan said the President should just focus on bigger issues.

"Instead of attacking those who disagree with his policies he should just focus on solving the nationwide rice crisis, bringing down the high prices of basic commodities, and creating jobs and better pay for our people who are now struggling desperately to make ends meet," the senator earlier said.