The Philippine National Police in Western Visayas supports the approval yesterday by the House Committee on Justice of a bill lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old.
“We support the proposed amendment to lower the age of criminal liability as this will address the current situation on criminality where children are used by syndicates, and even terrorists, to repeatedly commit crimes,” Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police regional director, said yesterday.
“The current provisions of the law on the age of criminal liability are no longer responsive to the call of the times where supposed innocent young adults are already mature and already have discernment,” he added.
Bulalacao also said that the proposed amendment does not actually intend to detain young criminals but to house them in more intensive reformatory facilities, rather than simply release them to commit crimes again.
“In general, we see the good intention behind the proposed amendment, thus, let us leave the discernment to the lawmakers,” he said.
Magdalo Partylist, on the other hand, said lowering the age of criminal liability is a shortsighted solution that puts the blame on the children, instead of addressing the underlying reasons why they engage in criminal activities.
“What must be done is to strengthen existing juvenile delinquency laws,improve detention centers for rehabilitation of the children, and provide the necessary intervention and care. Above all, the government must improve the youth's socio-economic conditions by providing them educational opportunities and livelihood for their families and fostering a children-friendly community,” it said.
“Instead of finding ways to jail them, the government should create an environment where they are protected and cared for so as not to end up being involved in criminal activities,” it added.
Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers) said "If the Duterte administration genuinely wants to lower crime rates and protect children from committing crimes, government should prioritize making sure that every child is able to attend quality and accessible education, ensure quality and accessible health care, adequate housing and increase the salaries and wages of their parents."
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Senate will prioritize the passage of a measure seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old before the end of the 17th Congress.*
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