De Lima : Make syndicates, parents accountable for exploiting children
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday urged her colleagues at the Senate to expedite the passage into law of a bill seeking to impose stiff penalties against criminal syndicates and parents who exploit children.
De Lima said she hopes her fellow senators would take a serious look at Senate Bill (SB) No. 195 or the Anti-Criminal Exploitation of Children Act as a way to better protect children from criminal exploitation.
“I urge my colleagues to look at the Anti-Criminal Exploitation of Children Act which is one of the first bills I filed meant to ensure that criminal syndicates and abusive parents, not our children, are held accountable under our law,” De Lima said in statement.
She said this in response to moves in Congress to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old, saying that it is not an “effective response to fight rising criminality.”
“Lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old cannot be an effective response to fight rising criminality. Our children are not the criminals here but victims of abuses and exploitation. They don’t belong in jail,” she said.
From the original proposal of nine years old, the House approved a bill seeking to lower the age of liability to 12 years old.
Under De Lima’s proposed measure, stiff penalties including imprisonment are to be bestowed upon criminal syndicates and individuals who engage, promote, facilitate or induce a child in illegal activities.
The bill also prescribes a no-arrest policy in all cases involving children. A child who is 15 years old or under during the time the offense was committed is exempt from criminal liability. A child above 15 years old but below 18 years old is also exempt from criminal liability but can be subjected to state intervention.
“Minors should be guided, not jailed. They do not possess the same level of discernment that adults have, making them defenseless to influences that place their lives and future at risk,” De Lima said.
“It is our duty to protect and take care of the psychological and physical well-being of our children. Imprisonment of children violates their human right to development,” she added.
“Children are among the marginalized and most vulnerable in society. They must be protected from predators. These include parents and criminals who take advantage of their vulnerability,” she said.
The measure also seeks to task the Commission on Human Rights as the Ombudsman for Children to promote and protect the rights of children, especially against criminal exploitation by organized criminal groups and abusive parents. /muf
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.