Sotto filed Senate Bill 2026 seeking to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts children aged 15 and below from criminal liability.
Geremy Pintolo
Tito Sotto files bill lowering age of criminal liability
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III is pushing for the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years and one day, owing to what he said was the alarming rise in the number of crimes involving minors.

Sotto filed Senate Bill 2026 seeking to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts children aged 15 and below from criminal liability.

“This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who commit serious criminal offense,” Sotto said yesterday.

“Not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters was deliberately taken from them,” he added.

He said criminal syndicates are exploiting the provisions of RA 9344 by using minors in the commission of crimes.

Citing a study conducted by the Child Rights International Network, Sotto said the average minimum age of criminal responsibility in Asia and Africa is 11. In the US and Europe, it is 13.

In his explanatory note to the bill, Sotto said that due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times.

He cited several viral videos showing children aged 15 and below beating each other to death, dragging an old man out of a public utility vehicle to steal his purse and taking the earnings of a jeepney driver.

There are also several cases where minors are being used as runners or couriers of drug syndicates because they would not be held criminally liable under the law.

The children caught for these crimes are released back into society and many of them end up as repeat offenders.

The measure seeks to amend Sections 6, 20, 20-A, 20-B and 22 of RA 9344, as amended so that a child below 18 years old but over 12 at the time of the commission of the crime can be held criminally liable and subjected to the appropriate proceedings, unless proven that he acted without discernment.

In cases where a child is proven to have acted without discernment, he will be exempt from criminal liability and subjected to appropriate intervention program under the law.

Under the bill, children aged over nine to 12 years who committed serious crimes such as parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and homicide are deemed neglected children as provided under Presidential Decree 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code as amended.

They will be placed in a special facility within the youth care faculty or Bahay Pag-asa.

Sotto said he would ensure adequate funding in the proposed 2019 national budget for the upgrading and construction of new youth care facilities.

CRIMES CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY VICENTE SOTTO III
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