Duterte hands off younger age controversy.
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wants to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years old but left it to Congress to determine the minimum age, Malacañang said yesterday amid concerns raised by several groups that nine years old was too young.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President would not meddle in the work of lawmakers on the bill that seeks to make offenders as young as nine years old liable for crimes.
“He has not made any statement on the age requirement. All he has been saying since the campaign is he wants that lowered and we will leave that to the lawmakers,” Panelo said during a news conference at the Palace.
“The President will not interfere because that’s the lawmakers’ job. We will not question that. Bahala sila. Gusto ni president, ang ayaw niyo ‘yang 15 definitely,” he added.
The House committee on justice recently approved a bill that amends Republic Act No. 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act to lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine years old from the current 15.
Under the measure, children in conflict with the law would be committed to youth care facility to undergo a multi-disciplinary intervention program.
Panelo said the proponents of the bill have dispelled the misconception that the young offenders would be brought to jail.
“Contrary to the misconception, these children with criminal liability will not be imprisoned. They will be rehabilitated,” he said.
“The bill is more directed against the criminals as well as parents who allow their children to be used by criminal syndicates,” he added.