Hontiveros: Go after big-time criminals, not children
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of going after children, the government should “get tough” on big-time drug lords, smugglers and plunderers, Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said Monday.
Hontiveros made the statement in light of the proposal of lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to nine years old, saying that lowering the age of criminal liability is “criminally short-sighted.”
“Getting tough on children in conflict with the law (CICL) while being lenient with big-time drug lords, smugglers and plunderers is not getting tough on crime, it is the promotion of a greater crime against our children and a case of not going after the real menace to our country,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
The senator said big-time criminals such as Peter Lim, the pork barrel lawmakers, and the Marcoses who “push the poor and vulnerable to crime” turn the children into victims by exploiting both their poverty and desperation.
“Instead of going after children, this government can make a real difference by getting tough on big-time drug lords, smugglers and plunderers like Peter Lim, the pork barrel lawmakers and the Marcoses,” Hontiveros said.
“These are the people who push the poor and the vulnerable into crime. These people turn our children into victims by exploiting both their poverty and their desperation,” she added.
The senator said the response to the issue is to strengthen and fully implement the existing Justice Juvenile Law (JJL) as the government improves socio-economic conditions and eliminate poverty.
“Juvenile penal systems focused on rehabilitation and education programs are more effective at reducing crime than simply imprisoning children,” she noted.
Lawmakers, police officers, and barangay officials should also fully understand the JJL as the perception that the law does not punish children who commit crimes is wrong, Hontiveros said.
“Currently, children below the age of 15 are exempted from criminal but not civil liability. Under the law, CICL will still be apprehended, subjected to appropriate interventions and punishments according to the violation and held civilly liable,” she said.
The House of Representatives justice panel approved on Monday a bill lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old. /je
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