MANILA–House committee on welfare of children chair Divina Grace Yu on Monday expressed support to the proposal seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old from 15.
In a press conference on Monday, Yu said that she is personally in favor of lowering the criminal liability age to 12 years old, considering that criminal syndicates exploit children into committing crimes.
“Personally, I would favor the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 12,” Yu said.
Yu, however, stressed that the majority vote of the committee on welfare and children would prevail over her personal view.
“But as I’ve said it’s not my personal vote or view (that) would matter. It’s with the committee on welfare of children,” Yu said.
“So, if the majority of the committee on welfare and children would say that this bill is detrimental to the welfare of children then I would bring the voice of the majority of the committee not to favor the said bill,” she added.
The bill, seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine from 15, is currently being deliberated by the House justice subcommittee on correctional reforms.
Lowering the criminal liability age is one of the priority measures of the Duterte administration.
Republic Act No. 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, raised the minimum age, of criminal liability to 15 years old. RA 9344, also known as the Pangilinan Law, was enacted into law in 2006.
For his part, House committee on agriculture and food chair Rep. Jose Panganiban said he prefers imposing stiffer penalties on syndicates who use children as pawns to perpetuate their criminal activities.
He added that parents should also be responsible and held accountable for the actions of their children.
“Personally, instead of lowering the age of criminality to 9 or 12 or not at all, siguro bigatan natin yung parusa dun sa magulang at kung sino ang gumamit dun sa mga bata,” Panganiban said.
“Dapat yung parusa sa magulang isama sa kulungan yun kung ano yung crime na nagawa yun din ang crime ng magulang,” he added.