Druggie-turned-lawmaker: No to bill making 9-year-old kids criminally liable
MANILA, Philippines — Even a lawmaker who admitted he was a drug addict and involved in a drug syndicate before opposed the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine years old.
Speaking at a weekly Minority bloc press conference on Wednesday, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. said the minimum age of criminal liability should be pegged at 12 years old, just like what Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon proposed in his Senate Bill No. 1603.
Based on his own experience, the lawmaker confirmed that a lot of drug syndicates are using minors who could not be prosecuted and who are not easily suspected.
“In my personal experience during the days when I was into drugs, ginagamit talaga ‘yung mga bata, kahit kami dati. I saw that. I’m sorry to say I’m for the law but not 9. According po sa data 12 (years old) ‘yung talagang maraming krimen…,” Teves said.
“Everybody knows I was a drug addict, we were tending drugs before… I was high school… Syempre kasama rin tayo sa sindikato dati, ang ginagawa, halimbawa sa isang lugar, ‘yung ginagawa naming kuta ng droga, ‘pag may parating na pulis, bata ang ginagamit, ‘pag may bibili bata ang ginagamit, ‘pag tatanggap ng pera bata rin ang magde-deliver ng shabu,” he explained.
Other lawmakers present during the media briefing also nixed House Bill No. 8858, which seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal liability from 15 years old to nine, is currently at the period of plenary debates.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said their party-list strongly denounced the proposed law, branding it as a scapegoat and alibi behind the government’s failure to address peace and order issues in the country.
“It is a product of obviously disoriented minds. Why? Bakit nyo sisisihin ‘yung mga bata, 9 years old children sa paglala raw ng peace and order situation?,” he asked.
He added: “Very clear, we are looking for a scapegoat or alibi for the failure of society and the gov’t. Pumapalpak tayo eh sa ating peace and order campaign.”
Atienza also cited the lack of youth care facilities in the country, warning that enacting the proposed law could make the country become a “factory of criminals.”
He then hit the House justice committee for inviting experts on the issue but “disregard(ing)” their opposition to the bill.
“That’s a stupid way of making a law,” he said as he vowed to block any attempts to railroad the bill’s approval.
For Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., what the government should do is to simply properly implement the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or Republic Act No. 9344.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, meanwhile, said he does not see a likely passage of HB 8858 because the chamber has a “very limited time” to do it. The House of Representatives only has seven session days left before going to a break on February 9. /kga
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