PNP backs Sotto bill lowering age of criminal liability to 13

MANILA The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday expressed support to Senate President Vicente Sotto III's bill pushing for the lowering of the age of criminal liability to 13, citing the rise in the number of crimes now being committed by minors.

We are supporting the proposal of the good senator. We are just getting inputs from the different regions and legal service, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde told reporters in a press conference on Monday.

He added that inputs from regional offices are expected to collect police data that will help boost the arguments of those supporting the measure.

He added that other countries have a lower age of criminal liability.

Remember, sa napakaraming (in many) foreign countries, una, wala nga silang (first, they do not even have any) limit. In some countries, there is even 6 years old, 7, may 10 pa nga sa ibang (in other) countries. Some of them European countries. Sa (In) Mexico 6, in South Africa and UK, meron silang (they have) 10, he said.

From the current age of 15, Senate Bill 2026 seeks to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act by lowering the criminal liability exemption to 13.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly criticized Senator Francis Pangilinan, the author of the law, saying criminal accountability should be lowered since some children are already involved in various criminal activities.

In some viral videos for instance, some street children were seen engaged in beating up people and robbery and theft along the streets.

Local and international groups, however, have been opposing the plan, saying the measure would absolve the accountability of the parents who are supposed to guide children.

In filing Senate Bill 2026, Sotto noted that criminal syndicates are exploiting the provisions of Republic Act 9344 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by using minors in the commission of crimes.

Citing a study conducted by the Child Rights International Network, Sotto pointed out that the average minimum age of criminal responsibility in Asia and Africa is 11. In the United States and Europe, it is 13.

In his explanatory note for Senate Bill 2026, Sotto said, "Due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times."

"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," he added.

He said not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters were deliberately taken from them.

Sotto cited several viral videos where children aged 15 and below were seen beating each other to death, dragging an old man out of a public utility vehicle to steal his purse, and taking the earnings of a jeepney driver.

Senate Bill 2026 amends Sections 6, 20, 20-A, 20-B and 22 of RA 9344, as amended so that a child below 18 years of age but above 12 at the time of the commission of the crime would be held criminally liable and subjected to the appropriate proceedings, unless proven that he/she acted without discernment.

In cases where it is proven that a child acted without discernment, he/she would be exempted from criminal liability and shall be subjected to the appropriate intervention program under the law.

Under the bill, for serious crimes such as parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and homicide, if the children who committed these are above nine years old up to 12 years old, they shall be deemed neglected children under Presidential Decree 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code, as amended and shall be placed in a special facility within the youth care facility or Bahay Pag-asa. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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