Robredo hits lower criminal liability age threshold, weak justice system
MANILA, Philippines — A weak justice system would put children in conflict with the law (CICL), especially those coming from poor families at a disadvantage if the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is lowered, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday.
“Sa akin po, malaking concern pa iyong kahinaan ng ating justice system. Alam po natin na luging lugi iyong mahihirap sa current set-up natin, at ayaw natin na dahil sa kahirapan napaparusahan nang walang dahilan,” Robredo said in an interview in Kiangan, Ifugao
(A big concern is the weak justice system. Under the current set-up, children from poor families will be at a disadvantage, and we don’t like to see children, because of poverty being punished for no reason).
“Tayo po ay signatory sa UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, at tayo nag-promise na hindi natin bababaan iyong ating minimum age of criminal liability,” she noted.
(The Philippines is a signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, and we promised not to lower the minimum age of criminal liability).
On Monday, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 8858 — which seeks to lower MACR to 12 — on the third and final reading.
The original proposal was to reduce MACR from 15 to nine, which sparked outrage and anger from children’s rights advocates, personalities, other lawmakers and groups.
Still, Robredo thinks that any number below 15 — the current MACR as mandated by R.A. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act — is unjust as children are still unable to fully comprehend and discern between right and wrong.
“Many years ago, iyong minimum age of criminal liability natin, talagang 12 na. Kaya po ito itinaas sa 15, dahil napakaraming pag-aaral na below the age of 15, iyong discernment ng mga bata ay hindi pa talaga, parang hindi pa sapat,” the Vice President said.
(The MACR then was 12. That was why it was raised to 15 because of numerous studies which showed that the discernment of children younger than 15 is not yet developed). /gsg
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