Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III filed Senate Bill 2026, which amends several sections of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo
UNICEF calls Sotto’s proposal lowering criminal liability ‘giant leap backward’
Gaea Katreena Cabico (philstar.com) - September 27, 2018 - 6:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Instead of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the government should improve the implementation of the existing juvenile law.

The United Nations Children's Fund stressed this point Thursday, expressing strong opposition to the proposal of Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years old from the current 15.

Earlier this week, Sotto filed Senate Bill 2026, which amends several sections of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.

UNICEF called the senator’s proposal a “giant leap backward.”

“To brand children as criminals removes the responsibility and accountability from adults who have failed them. Children in conflict with the law are victims of circumstance, mostly because of poverty and because they are not able to access a caring, nurturing and protective environment,” it said.

UNICEF added: “By lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, syndicate groups who exploit children into committing crimes for them, will instead use and abuse even younger children to commit their wrongdoings.”

UNICEF stressed that already disadvantaged children should be protected, not detained.

Under the proposed measure, children above nine years old to 12 years old would be deemed neglected under the Child and Youth Welfare Code if they commit serious crimes such as parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and homicide. They would be placed within a youth care facility or Bahay Pag-asa.

“A 12-year-old child is not yet even a teenager. A nine-year-old child has not yet even reached the standard age of puberty. These ages are too young and exposing them to the harshness of the criminal justice system, where even adults are rightly intimidated, is a grave wrongdoing,” the body said.

Child Rights International Network earlier said Sotto’s proposal will only draw more children into the criminal justice system instead of addressing the issue.

TITO SOTTO UNICEF
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