The Daily Manila Shimbun


House subcommittee keeps 15 as minimum age of criminal liability

May 23, 2017

The House subcommittee on correctional reforms Tuesday approved a bill strengthening the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006, imposing a maximum 40-year or life imprisonment against parents and syndicates using children to commit crimes but rejected a proposal lowering the minimum age of criminal liability from 15 years old to nine years old. Only Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate abstained during the voting of the still unnumbered bill that kept 15 as the minimum age of criminal liability. The subcommittee, chaired by Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal ,did not carry the proposal of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro who sponsored House Bill No. 2 seeking to revert the minimum age of criminal liability from the 15 years old to nine years old. The draft measure, which will be approved by the House committee on justice, was a product of three meetings by the technical working group led by Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo. "If the crime committed by the minor is punishable below 6 years, punishment is times two to the person who used him,” said Salo who moved for the approval of the bill amending Republic Act (RA) No. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by imposing heavy penalties against adults using children for criminal acts. "Considering that children do not have yet the full capacity to  understand the extent and consequences of their actions, it seems harsh and unjust to judge them by the same standards society uses in judging the actions of adults,” Salo stressed. The approved bill punishes reclusion temporal to any person who induces or coerces a child to commit a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of six years or less, and by reclusion perpetua if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of more than six years. The proposal tasks the Department of Social Welfare and Development to establish “Bahay Pag-asa” in provinces and cities, which shall serve as an intensive juvenile intervention and support center for the children in conflict with the law. Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, a vice chairman of the subpanel, said the administration of Bahay Pag-asa will be transferred from the local government units to the DSWD. DMS