MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said he is “comfortable” with lowering the age of criminal liability to 12 years old.
Duterte made this remark after the House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill meant to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years to 12 years, not nine as earlier proposed.
“If it’s the final decision, I’m comfortable with it,” he told reporters in a chance interview after the Tricycle Operators and Drivers' Association (TODA) Summit in Pasay City.
Asked if he would have agreed with the House’s original proposal of nine years as the minimum age of criminal liability, Duterte said he just insisted on 12 years since congressmen could not agree.
“Oo ‘yung (the) original was really not below nine, above nine, below 12, tapos (and then) above 12 below 16. Iyon ang original. Ibinabalik ko lang (that’s the original. I was just returning it),” he said.
“Sabi ko isauli lang ninyo (I said just return it to the original) if you cannot agree. Return to the original law. But if you have some other ideas in mind, I’m open to it,” he added.
Duterte said the original law set the age of criminal liability at nine years before it was replaced with the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act 9344), which exempts children 15 years and below from criminal liability.
“Iyon ang original law bago pinakialaman ni (That was the original law before it was changed by) the one single Filipino lawmaker who did the greatest disservice to his country,” Duterte said, referring to Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan who authored the law.
Duterte earlier called Pangilinan’s law a “stupid law” for giving rise to Filipinos with “criminal minds.”
The President, meanwhile, emphasized that as early as nine years, parents should also be conscious of their children’s criminal accountability.
“Ganung edad pa lang, pukpukin na (As early as that age, they should already be reminded) because they will be ultimately responsible,” he said.
“Any violation of law ng bata ngayon at nagkulang 'yung (committed by children that shows that parents lack) supervision and vigilance ng parents, sila ang idedemanda (they will face charges),” he added.
Duterte also stressed anew that minors will not be imposed with imprisonment but given lectures by social workers.
“Hindi naman talaga nakukulong 'yan. Pupunta lang 'yan sa social workers para magle-lecture (They won’t really be imprisoned. They will only go to social workers to listen to lectures),” Duterte said.
Malacañang earlier said that the Executive Branch will not interfere with Congress in the legislative process.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also expressed confidence that the House would ensure that due consideration on the protective rights of the child are weighed in on legislating the law.
Panelo pointed out the intent of the proposed bill is to “protect children against criminals who victimize and coerce them to become offenders.” (PNA)
Photo from GMA News Online