Santiago opposes lower minimum age for juvenile offenders

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MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday opposed the proposal to lower the minimum age for criminal liability for minors, saying that the public disagrees with this as seen in the results of an online poll by the House of Representatives.

In a statement, Santiago said that children found guilty of committing crimes should be rehabilitated and not penalized.

She said that the survey, conducted a month after the Congress passed its House Bill No. 6052 or their proposed amendments to Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, showed that 70 percent of the respondents said they did not agree with the proposed measure of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old.

“Criminal justice should never be a controlling paradigm for children, especially for those who have committed non-heinous offenses. Even in heinous crimes, the intention should still be the child’s restoration, rehabilitation and reintegration. It is in these cases, where diversion could be utilized to help in the protection and rehabilitation of the child,” Santiago said.

“The Juvenile Justice System should follow the framework of Restorative Justice, which promotes children safety rather than community safety. When you promote children’s safety, then community safety is inherently achieved. If the community is safe for children, it is safe for all,” she added.

Santiago reiterated her proposal during the her amendment speech on the original Juvenile Justice Bill in 2005 wherein she said that for “non-heinous” misdemeanors, children under 18 years old should be totally exempted from criminal liability and instead be subjected to a child welfare program which will be determined by a social worker.

“A higher standard should be set for children to avoid the criminal justice system as much as possible. Children, who are mature minors at age 16 or 17 years, rarely commit crimes on their own. There usually are adult masterminds,” Santiago said.

For his part, lawyer Tricia Clare Oco, executive director of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council Secretariat, the results gave the JJWA “a much-needed shot in the arm.”

“We are excited about the poll result because it echoes the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council’s opinion that lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility is not the answer to solving criminality involving children and the poll shows we are not alone in this conviction and we appreciate that support,” said Oco.

She added that opinions on relevant matters from prominent and respected personalities help highlight and give attention to the provisions provided in the JJWA.

“Support, coming whether directly from the people in the form of surveys or from lawmakers, who understand the letters and the spirit of the law, definitely provides us with the much needed moral boost in our efforts to promote and protect the rights and the welfare of the children in conflict with the law,” Oco said.

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  • patriotic_act

    senator you are showing your age.. our modern time no longer conforms to the old norms your acquainted to.

    I suggest we go on with this.. lets also build a separate “Kid Criminal Jail” away from the hardened adult criminals, this jail can be manned and maintained by the DSWD if they want to, but we still need to make kid criminal feel what it is like to be behind bars.

    but with limit, a 12 year old kid will still know the agony of living behind bars because of his age.. thus we can limit maximum jail terms to kid criminals depending on the crime perpetrated.

    12-13 years old – maximum of 1 year
    14-15 years old – maximum of 2 years
    16-17 years old – maximum of 3 years
    18-Up – regular jail term to reclusion perpetua.

    Ofcourse we can also apply “good behavior” for early release.. say a 12 year old kid criminal guilty of homicide sentenced to 1 year in prison showed remorse behind bars and reacted well to rehabilitation can be freed after 8 months..

    We are no longer in the old days where kids are scared to do bad things for the fear of getting spanked.. right now kids are more scared of not being able to do what they wanted.. even if it is a crime.

    • Guest

      Psychologists disagree.

  • Juan Delacruz

    Yup I agree with her what I do not agree is how the juvenile act is drafted, mangongopya na lang tayo hindi pa kinopya yung worf na “trial as an adult”.

  • Juan Delacruz

    TRIAL AS AN ADULT

  • http://twitter.com/mellamo2013 mellamo2013

    minimum of 13. tis a sad reality that these children are forced to commit criminal acts coz of lack of care and supervision, poverty etc.

    • im_not_convinced

      just a couple months ago a pair of boys, 12 and 16, raped and sodomized a 9 year old girl in Paranaque. they then murdered her because wouldn’t stop crying and dumped her body in river. they then texted her parents “find your daughter among the lilies”.

      The police caught the 2 but had to let them go without pressing charges because of their age.

      this was all over the news papers but was quickly forgotten with the public’s fixation on the Corona trial (shame shame).

      heinous crimes should be punished even it is committed by minors. i doubt anybody forced them to do what they did.

  • i_am_filipino

    In England, at 16yo, you could join the army and kill people. If a 16 yo committed a crime, he could go to prison and maybe transfer to the adult prison. Wake up people.

  • im_not_convinced

    just a couple months ago a pair of boys, 12 and 16, raped and sodomized a 9 year old girl in Paranaque. they then murdered her because wouldn’t stop crying and dumped her body in river. they then texted her parents “find your daughter among the lilies”.

    The police caught the 2 but had to let them go without pressing charges because of their age.

    this was all over the news papers but was quickly forgotten with the public’s fixation on the Corona trial (shame shame).

    heinous crimes should be punished even it is committed by minors.

    • WeAry_Bat

      I agree if the actions, intent and decisions are no longer that of a child. There should be no more minimum age.

      For instance, in the example you made, it is no longer an innocent child who does rape and sodomy. It is no longer the mind of a child who kills.

      Age no longer has a bearing because of the actions done are no longer those of a child.

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