Lowering age of criminal responsibility to protect children, Malaca?ang says
Malaca?ang expressed belief on Monday that lowering the age of criminal responsibility will protect the children.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo could not say yet if President Rodrigo Duterte supports a bill in the House of Representatives reducing the criminal liability to nine years old from current 15 years old.
He said he would ask Duterte of his preferred age, but what the President wants is just to "lower" the age of criminal responsibility.
"The theory of the President is this: The present criminals are the very minors that were used by the criminals," Panelo said.
By reducing the age of criminal liability, he said, "It will deter the criminals from using the minors because it’s useless for them do that because there will be criminal responsibility."
He noted that currently, criminals "are bold" in using minors in committing crimes because they would be released or could not be imprisoned.
"That's why I think the law is geared towards the protection of the minors rather than, from the point of view of those opposing it that it's against to their interest - I disagree," he said.
The House committee on justice approved on Monday a bill that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine years old.
Under the bill, children nine to 14 years old who will commit serious crimes, such as murder, parricide, infanticide, serious illegal detention, carnapping, and violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, will be placed under mandatory confinement for rehabilitation at Bahay Pag-asa.
Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, said Congress would surely include provision regarding "discernment" of a minor in committing a particular offense or crime and the corresponding penalty.
He also said based on Duterte's actions when he was still a mayor of Davao City, he could have wanted parents to be criminally liable as well.
"Well, let’s just say that given the action of the President as mayor, I think he is open to making the parents accountable for the criminal acts of the children, if the law says that they can be criminally accountable. Because right now, it's not allowed," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS