Senate report recommends criminal liability age threshold to 12, stiffer penalties for parents
MANILA, Philippines — Children as young as 12 years old who acted with discernment should be held criminally liable while parents of children in conflict with the law should suffer stiffer penalties.
These were among the recommendations included in a 13-page report prepared by three committees— justice and human rights; women, children, family relations and gender equality; and finance — on a bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12.
The report was signed by 11 of 21 committee members, including Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee on justice.
Under the bill, a child below 12 years old at the time of the commission of an offense should be exempt from liability. But the child would still be subjected to an intervention program.
“A child 12 years of age and above but below 18 years of age shall likewise be exempt from liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless the child has acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with this Act,” the measure noted.
Moreover, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD), in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government, should establish a fund and manage a 24-hour child-caring institution for children in conflict with the law who commits parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention where the victim is killed or raped, robbery with homicide or rape, destructive arson, rape or carnapping where the driver or occupant is killed or raped, or offenses under Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002.
The DSWD will also be responsible for building, funding, and operating a “Bahay Pag-asa” (House of Hope).
Every “Bahay Pag-asa” should have facilities such as gyms, libraries, and vocational training shops.
The budget for building, funding, and operating the “Bahay Pag-asa” will be included in the DSWD’s annual budget. The measure also proposes higher penalties for “parental liability.”
Under the bill, any person, including parents who exploit a child could face reclusion perpetua if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of more than six years.
A penalty of reclusion temporal, meanwhile, would be imposed if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of six years or less.
“The fact that the person who exploited the child for the commission of crimes shall be considered as a generic aggravating circumstance,” the bill further read. /ee
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