“These are challenging times and we need to offer timely solutions,” he says
(Eagle News) — Senate President Tito Sotto has defended proposals to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility, saying the prevailing juvenile justice law “did not result in bringing down the number of crimes committed by minors, many of which were violent in nature.”
He was referring to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, which pegs the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 15 years old.
According to Sotto, these were “challenging times and we need to offer timely solutions.”
The bill pending in the Senate in particular, which he authored and which seeks to peg the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 13 years old, has a provision that that aims to upgrade the facilities for children in conflict with the law “which the current law failed to address.”
“The objective is not to incarcerate children, but to place them in the Bahay Pag-Asa facilities across the country where they would be rehabilitated and given a chance to enjoy normal lives,” he said.
He said “just like any other bill in the Senate, this proposal will be debated, scrutinized and the views of both those against and in favor will be taken into consideration.”
” This is the sad reality and one that we cannot afford to just accept or turn a blind eye to,” Sotto said.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill that seeks to peg the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old.
The bill was an amended version of the bill earlier passed by the House justice committee that sought to peg the minimum age of criminal liability to 9 years old.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vocal about his support for lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, saying children were already being used by criminals in their illegal activities.
Some expressed their opposition to the proposals though, saying children should not be treated the same way as adults.
Opposition senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros, for instance, said what was needed was a more thorough implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.