This file photo shows a group of children along Manila Bay.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File
House changes proposed age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old
( - January 23, 2019 - 5:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Wednesday swiftly approved on second reading the bill that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the country after only two days of plenary deliberations. 

The bill breezed through the lower house through viva-voce voting.

The approved bill now lowers the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old, instead of nine. The amendment was done last minute at the plenary.

Under the controversial House Bill 8858, children as young as 12 years old who commit serious crimes with discernment would be mandatorily confined at Bahay Pag-asa — youth care facilities mandated by law to offer rehabilitation and intervention to children in conflict with the law.

The approval of the bill on second reading came only two days after it was passed by the House justice panel on Monday.

The proponents of the measure stressed that the bill was filed with the intention to reform children in conflict with the law and not to punish them, and to protect them from being used by criminal syndicates.

But some lawmakers and groups — especially those advocating a more “restorative” handling of children in conflict with the law — said the bill is an act of violence against children and appealed for a strengthened implementation of the current juvenile justice law. 

In the upper chamber, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III filed a bill seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to “above 12 years old,” while Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon wants to lower the age to 12 years old. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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