Arroyo on age of liability: It was what Duterte wanted
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday admitted that she supported the bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine years old because President Rodrigo Duterte wanted it.
“Because the President wants it. From the beginning, I said that my agenda is the President’s agenda,” Arroyo told reporters in an ambush interview. She offered no other reason when asked again.
Pressed if she’s amenable to penalizing 9-year-olds, Arroyo answered: “To me whatever the Congress will eventually come up with. I dictate on the deadlines but I don’t dictate on substance. Let the legislative process determine that.”
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives began the plenary debates on House Bill No. 8858 a day after the committee on justice swiftly approved it. The proposed law was backed by Duterte, as well as Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
READ: House panel swiftly okays lower age of criminal liability | Amid jeers, House panel OKs lower age of criminal liability
Justice panel chair and Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon earlier claimed that the “priority” measure, which they hope to pass into law before the end of the 17th Congress, was aimed at “protecting children from being used by ruthless and unscrupulous criminal syndicates to evade prosecution and punishment.”
He said children in conflict with the law would not be jailed in ordinary prisons but in reformative institutions like the Bahay Pag-asa. But he admitted that there are only 58 operational youth care facilities nationwide.
Child Rights Network (CRN) Philippines convenor Rom Dongeto and Bukidnon 3rd District Rep. Manuel Zubiri have warned that under the “poor” justice system in the country, children in conflict with the law would end up in ordinary prisons.
Only 1.7 percent of crimes can be attributed to minors, Dongeto added.
In the Senate, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 1603 seeking to lower the age of criminal liability to 12 years old, while Sotto filed SBN 2026 seeking to lower the age to “above 12 years old.” These bills have been pending at the chamber’s justice committee. /cbb/ac
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