MANILA – The House of Representatives’ Justice committee is set to hear this week a bill that seeks to lower the age of criminal liability to nine years old from the current 15.
House Justice committee chairman Doy Leachon (Oriental Mindoro, 1st District) said they are finalizing the measure as it hopes to pass into law before the end of the 17th Congress.
Leachon said in a statement that it is timely to pass the measure due to recent news reports showing that children were being used by syndicates to perpetrate criminal acts knowing that they will not be put into jail.
“It is but the time to pass this bill to protect your children from being used by ruthless and unscrupulous criminal syndicates to evade prosecution and punishment,” Leachon said.
He added: “We consider this measure as priority legislation in line with the administration’s efforts to curb violence and crime as important catalyst to economic growth, enhancement of family values and national development.”
There are at least five pending bills in the Justice panel seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, to lower the minimum age of criminal liability.
President Rodrigo Duterte said before the current minimum age of criminal responsibility of 15 years old leads to producing “generations” of young people committing drug-related crimes.
RA 9344 states that children caught in possession of illegal substances would be taken under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Department for rehabilitation./PN