Dissenting solons say 12-year olds can’t discern right from wrong
MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers on Monday cited the inability of 12 year old children to distinguish between what is legal and illegal as the primary reason behind their dissenting vote on the bill lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR).
On Monday, the House of Representatives voted 146-34 to pass HB 8858 on the third and final reading.
The measure originally pegged the MACR from 15 to nine years old, but relented after criticisms from different personalities and organizations.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said during the regular session on Monday that he voted against the passage of House Bill 8858 because children as young as 12 cannot discern criminal culpability, as their brains are not yet mature enough.
“Neuroscientific research documents that the brains of children do not fully develop until their early 20s […] If children in this age bracket cannot vote, run for Sangguniang Kabataan positions, get married or secure a driver’s license, then why suffer them to be confined, detained, jailed and charged with a crime?” he asked.
Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao and Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas also expressed the same sentiments.
According to Casilao, the proposal is a form of abuse against children, while Brosas said the move will be detrimental to the development of a child.
“This proposal defies all logic, science, and statistics on children in conflict with the law and child’s development. We stand with scientists, experts, and child right’s advocates that lowering the age of criminal liability will be detrimental to the growth and development of a child and will not end the culture of impunity in the country today,” Brosas added.
Marikina 2nd District Rep. Miro Quimbo also noted that actions of children in conflict with the law (CICL) are reflective of their environment.
“Crime, when committed by a child, reflects not any evil or failure on the part of the child, but rather reflects the evil in his environment and the failure of parents, the State, and society as a whole,” Quimbo said in a statement.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that the proposed measure would only force organized crime syndicates to use younger children — those below the scope of MACR.
“Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility will not deter syndicates from using children. They would instead be encouraged to victimize children younger than 12 years old,” Alejano explained.
Meanwhile, Lagman and Quimbo urged government to give R.A. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 a chance, as it has not yet been fully implemented.
“The present Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 must be fully implemented with the assurance of adequate funding for non-penal institutions and programs for children in conflict with the law,” Lagman said.
“As a believer in scientific consensus, a witness to the poor implementation of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act, and as a father of four children, let us examine more carefully and meticulously the roots of juvenile delinquency,” Quimbo added.
Instead, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that the focus should be at factors that force children to commit crime. /gsg
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