The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday, Jan. 23, expressed its opposition on any proposal to lower the age of criminal liability to either nine years old or even 12 years old.
CHR Spokesperson Jackie De Guia reminded the Philippine government that they vowed not to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years old by voluntarily entering the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Batay iyan sa kaalaman natin na ang mga kabataan, wala pang kakayahan na tumimbang ng tama o mali, o iyan tinatawag na discernment,” De Guia said during DZRH’s Isyu.
“Maihahalintulad natin iyan sa pag-cocompare sa ilang mga batas natin patungkol sa age of consent. Matatandaan natin sa usapin ng kasal o kaya ay pag-pasok sa kontrata, sinasabi natin na age of consent ay 18 years old,” De Guia explained.
The CHR official said that minors aged 12 years old and below are ‘susceptible and vulnerable to exploitation of adults or syndicates’. She added that the decisions of said children could be influenced by threat, intimidation, or temptation.
“Therefore, hindi kanila or sarili nila yung desisyon na gumawa ng isang krimen,” De Guia said.
De Guia believes that the government should focus on chasing crime syndicates that exploit children. She also urged the state to resolve the problem of poverty thru Republic Act No. 10354, also known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.
“Kung ang mga magulang ay walang kakayahan na mag-aruga kailangan ma-factor in dito yung reproductive health initiative, tulad ng birth control method para malimitahan yung number of children,” De Guia said.
“Yung doon naman sa mga karumal-dumal na krimen, kailangan pag-isipan yung rason na iyan. It’s either born in dysfunctional families o kaya may pag-gamit ng impluwensya ng droga,” the CHR official stressed.
According to De Guia, CHR has submitted their position to Congress. They also attend hearings of the Senate and the House of Representatives regarding the measure.
“Naglalabas kami ng pahayag, alinsunod sa aming mandato na maging adviser ng pamahalaan,” De Guia added.
“Isa rin sa aming mga mandato ay yung monitor government compliance to these treaty international obligation. Pinapaala namin na may sinign sila na Convention on the Rights of the Child. Malaki iyon kanilang commitment sa usapin na iyan,” De Guia said.
The House Justice Committee on Monday, Jan. 21, passed House Bill No. 505, authored by Tarlac District Rep. Victor Yap, that seeks to amend RA 10630 in order to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to nine years old.
Senators said that they are open to lowering the age of criminal liability but only up to 11 or 12 years old while others oppose the measure completely.