Gordon, Ejercito keen on 12 years old as threshold for criminal liability
MANILA, Philippines — Two senators are more inclined to support the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 12 years old, instead of 9.
On Monday, the House of Representatives justice committee passed a bill lowering the age of liability from 15 years to 9 years old.
But after conducting the first hearing on the same issue at the Senate on Tuesday, Senator Richard Gordon expressed his inclination to support lowering the age of criminal liability to 12 years old only.
“Nine (years old) I think is too tender,” Gordon told reporters after presiding over the hearing as chair of the Senate committee on justice.
“I’m more leaning now to 12. Ang ire-recommend ko siguro is 12 pero after about three years we look it up and then we raise it to 15 years old…” he said.
Gordon believes that at 12 years old, a child has a “more serious understanding” of what is good and bad.
After three years, he said Congress may go back to the current 15 years old threshold.
“I’m not changing for the sake of pleasing the President. I’m changing because I think this is a more pragmatic way…” the senator added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly asked Congress to amend the existing law by lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility which is at 15 years old.
Senator JV Ejercito also junked the House version of the bill, setting the minimum age of criminal liability to as young as 9 years old.
Instead, Ejercito said he was amenable to support the “internationally accepted standard of 12 years old.”
“I do not support the proposal to lower the age of criminal liability to 9 years old,” he said in a text message.
“As a father of a 10-year old kid, I know that that age is just too young to assign liability. I am more amenable to lowering it to the internationally accepted standard of 12 years old.”
“They should not go to regular jails because they need rehabilitation. It’s the criminals who use minors that deserve heavy penalties,” Ejercito added.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has a pending bill that seeks to peg the minimum age of criminal liability at 12 years old. /muf
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