(Eagle News) — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Thursday, Jan. 24, slammed the House of Representatives after it approved on second reading a bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old.
In a statement, Lagman said the House was a “chamber of regressive legislation” for approving on second reading House Bill 8858 on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
The approved bill had been amended to allow for the change in the minimum age of responsibility from the proposed 9 years old contained in the bill previously passed by the House justice committee.
But according to Lagman, “even at the reduced age of 12 as the threshold, House Bill 8858, as amended, remains to be anti-child.”
Lagman said children aged 12 to 15, after all, “do not have complete faculties for discernment to make them criminally culpable,” based on studies that show that the brains of children do not develop fully until their early 20s.
He added lowering the age of criminal responsibility will not lead to a reduction in crime, and will instead encourage children to use younger children in their illegal activities.
“The present Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 must be fully implemented with the assurance of adequate funding for non-penal institutions and programs for children in conflict with the law,” he said.
He noted for instance that only five Bahay Pag-asa units have been accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council.
“We must not expose children to the adversities of prosecutory and judicial processes just because government has failed to implement the juvenile justice law,” he added.