Incoming House Speaker files bill lowering age of criminal liability | The Summit Express

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Incoming House Speaker files bill lowering age of criminal liability


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MANILA, Philippines- Incoming House Speaker and Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez has filed a bill that will lower the minimum age of criminal liability to 9 years old.

Incoming House Speaker files bill lowering age of criminal liability
PHOTO CREDIT: Interaksyon
This is the second bill filed in the 17th Congress under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. Alvarez also filed House Bill 1 which seeks to reimpose death penalty for heinous crimes.

Bill authors Alvarez and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said minors are being used by syndicates as accomplices in their crime because children could not be held criminally liable.

House Bill 2 or “Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility Act” aims to amend Republic Act 9344 or “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006”, which puts the minimum age for crime liability at 15 years old. Bill authors Alvarez and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said minors are being used by syndicates as accomplices in their crime because children could not be held criminally liable.

"Nakita natin na no matter how noble the purpose of the law, ‘yung increasing to 15 kaya lang in practice, ito'y sinamantala ng mga criminals. Ginagamit ‘yung mga minors, 15 years old, to escape criminal liability. Siguro, (dapat) makita natin yung wisdom ng old law,” Alvarez told reporters.

(We have seen that no matter how noble the purpose of the law, that increasing the age to 15 is taken advantage by criminals. They use minors, 15 years old, to escape criminal liability. We should see the wisdom of the old law.)

According to Alvarez, the law may apply to all youth offenders including the “batang hamog”. But the solon explained that minors would be subjected to a government intervention program to rehabilitate them.

In 2014, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced that it strongly objects the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 13.

According to the DSWD, the proposed provisions do not abide by international laws and treaties promoting and protecting children’s rights. The government agency also believes that the move to criminalize younger children is anti-poor and regressive.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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