“This was the consensus of all the House members. Of course, we would like to get a feel of all the members of Congress. There were many reservations with regard to nine, so we got the majority uniform it to 12 instead of nine,” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, chairman of the House justice committee, told journalists at a briefing shortly after House Bill 8858 was passed on second reading by the plenary.
Boy Santos
House revises crime liability threshold from 9 to 12
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The leadership of the House of Representatives approved yesterday the measure that seeks to lower the age of criminal liability for children, but compromised for 12 years instead of the originally proposed nine.

“This was the consensus of all the House members. Of course, we would like to get a feel of all the members of Congress. There were many reservations with regard to nine, so we got the majority uniform it to 12 instead of nine,” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, chairman of the House justice committee, told journalists at a briefing shortly after House Bill 8858 was passed on second reading by the plenary.

The Senate has yet to pass a counterpart bill, which sets the age of criminal liability at 12. The chamber is scheduled to conduct public hearings on its version of the measure.

President Duterte is amenable to 12 years as the age of discernment for criminal offenses, as the debates on the proposed measure lowering age rage both inside and outside the halls of Congress.

“If it’s the final decision, I am comfortable with it as long as it’s above 12 below 16, yung indeterminate sentence papasok doon. Binabalik ko yung (Bring back the) original, above nine below 12, above 12 below 16,” Duterte said in an ambush interview at the gathering of tricycle drivers last night in Pasay City.

In a speech during the annual assembly of the Provincial Union of Leaders Against Illegality at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City the other night, Duterte referred to a recent police anti-drug operation where children “as young as six, eight, nine, 14” were among the suspects rounded up by authorities.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said yesterday she is supporting the bill lowering the age of criminal liability because it is among Duterte’s legislative priorities.

Asked why she is pushing for it, she said, “Because the President wants it.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said his department submitted to Malacañang last Tuesday its legal opinion supporting the move in Congress to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the country without specifying the age.

“We’ll leave it to Malacañang to process our recommendation and make it known,” he said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones is standing by her position against lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

In an interview on Tuesday, Briones said the human development and poverty reduction cluster of the Cabinet, to which the Department of Education (DepEd) belongs, has issued a statement opposing the proposal.

Briones noted that the move to lower the criminal age of responsibility is aimed at addressing the issue of children supposedly being used by drug syndicates.

She said, however, that passing the law would affect all children, including those who commit petty misdemeanors.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said proposals lowering the minimum age of criminal liability needs careful study, with collective ideas not only coming from the government but also from other sectors of society.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum yesterday, Albayalde cited police statistics that 12,139 minors aged five to 17 were accosted since 2016 for various crimes such as rape, robbery and illegal drugs.

He also expressed concern that among these offenders are 1,800 minors accused of rape.

Albayalde said the problem of juvenile deliquency will not be solved solely on the law enforcement perspective.

He said there should be a system where concerned agencies must contribute to ensure rehabilitation of children who run afoul of the law.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III sees no problem in lowering the age of criminal liability.

He said lowering it to nine years is unlikely to cause negative impact on the health of children who might eventually be caught for committing crimes.

“The children will be taken where there will be reformation program and there they will also be provided with appropriate health service so we would be able to help them,” Duque noted.

Detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima opposes the bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility as she challenged the government to run after big-time drug syndicates instead of children.

“Children are not criminals. They’re victims too,” De Lima said, describing proponents as “heartless monsters.” – With Christina Mendez, Edu Punay, Emmanuel Tupas, Janvic Mateo, Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla, Robertzon Ramirez, Alexis Romero, Paolo Romero, Helen Flores, Edith Regalado

AGE OF CRIMINAL LIABILITY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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