CHR reiterates opposition to lowering age of criminal liability even after amended House bill

(Eagle News) — The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday, Jan. 24, expressed opposition to lowering the age of criminal liability anew even after the House of Representatives amended its original proposal pegging the minimum age of criminal liability at nine years old to 12 years old.

The amended bill was approved by the House on second reading on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

A bill that pegs the minimum age of criminal liability at 13 years old is pending in the Senate.

“We must stop shifting the burden to children..,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

According to De Guia, “adjusting the proposed age of criminal liability from nine to 12 is not an act of compassion nor is it aligned with the government’s responsibility to uphold its obligation to protect the rights of children, including the most vulnerable and marginalized.”

She said the government should instead ensure that the current law, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, which pegs the age of criminal liability at 15 years old, was properly implemented.

De Guia said for instance that based on CHR data,  only 58 facilities for children in conflict of the law have been built.

She said only eight were accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in 2018.

“(We should) start addressing lapses in the law’s implementation; providing better support and guidance to children; as well as stricter means to curb syndicates and individuals who feed on our children’s vulnerabilities,” De Guia said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, President Rodrigo Duterte said he preferred the minimum age of criminal liability pegged at nine years old, but was “comfortable” with 12 years old.

Duterte has been very vocal about what he said was the need to lower the age of criminal responsibility, saying that children were already being used by criminal syndicates in their illegal activities.