Senators Split on Lowering Age of Criminal Liability to 9

Manila Bulletin, July 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

Senators Split on Lowering Age of Criminal Liability to 9


Is the Philippines ready to put to death a nine-year old?

Senator Paolo "Bam" Aquino IV posed this challenge to critics of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act and those calling for the lowering of age of criminal liability.

Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, for his part, said he is willing to support the bill offhand, noting how crime syndicates are exploiting the juvenile delinquency law and that "times have changed."

"There are 12 years old who can think like a criminal and is exposed to a world of crime. The workings of his mind are already different. So I suggest that Congress discuss this, but I'm willing to support the move to lower the age of criminal liability," Lacson said.

Aquino said he cannot agree to adjust the age of juvenile delinquents that should be made to face the law in view of the possibility of the restoration of the death penalty.

"If we allow both of these laws to pass, we would be putting even children as young as nine-year old as candidates on death row," said Aquino, chair of the Senate committee on youth.

"So, is this the kind of Philippines that we want?" Aquino asked.

The senator was reacting to a resolution filed by presumptive House Speaker and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 years old to nine years old.

Alvarez also sought passage of the bill restoring the death penalty in keeping with President Rodrigo Duterte's all-out anti-criminality campaign.

But the senator said that to give full criminal liability to a nine-year-old would be "too cruel" and is not the appropriate kind of development a child or a youth should need.

"If you put the two bills that he filed together, the restoration of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal liability to nine years-old, then we might be faced with a situation subjecting even a nine-year old child to life imprisonment or death penalty," Aquino pointed out.

"I don't know if the proponents of the law realize this but there are cases that drug couriers or drug lords or drug pushers use children and the children are the ones caught," he said.

"That child can actually get life imprisonment or death penalty. Handa ba ang Pilipinas na pumatay ng nine years old na nasangkot sa ganoong klaseng pangyayari? I don't think that's what we want to do, na pumatay tayo ng mga bata (Is the Philippines ready to kill a nine year old that was involved in that kind of circumstances? …

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