Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III wants the age of criminality lowered from 15 to 13, citing the supposed rise in crimes committed by minors.

Sotto filed Monday (September 24) Senate Bill No. 2026 which seeks to amend Sections 6, 20, 20-A, 20-B and 22 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or Republic Act 9344.

“The aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times,” Sotto said in explaining his bill.

“The State must ensure that those children in conflict with the law who are currently exempt from criminal liability who take advantage of the same must not be given the same privilege,” he added.
Under Sotto’s proposal, children aged below 18 but above 12 “shall be held criminally liable” unless it is proven that they acted without discernment.

Meanwhile, children aged 12 below in conflict with the law would be released to their parents, guardians or next-of-kin and undergo a community-based intervention program.
However, if it is found that children aged from nine to 12 are living in abusive households, they would be committed to a youth care facility or “Bahay Pag-asa.”

They would also be sent to a Bahay Pag-asa if they commit parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention where the victim is killed or raped, carnapping with homicide or rape, and violations to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act punishable by more than 12 years imprisonment.

“This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who committed serious criminal offense,” Sotto said in a statement.
“Not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters were deliberately taken from them,” he added.

The bill comes after photos and videos showing children in fist fights, attempting to drag an old man out of a jeepney, and taking a jeepney driver’s earnings went viral.

President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for the lowering of the age of criminal liability, but the House has junked his bid, with its justice committee passing a similar bil strengthening RA 9344, but retaining the age of criminal liability at 15.

SOURCE : Politiko

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