Senate seeks harsher penalties for parents of juveniles in crimes
A joint Senate panel has recommended harsher penalties for parents who would exploit their children for the commission of crimes.
The joint report by the committees on justice and human rights, women, children, family relations and gender equality, and finance also said that children as young as 12 years old should be held liable for crimes if they acted with discernment.
The report echoes an earlier measure approved by the House of Representatives on the President’s request.
Under the current law, children 15 years or younger are exempted from criminal liability.
The report also transferred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development the responsibility for building and operating Bahay Pag-asa centers, which are supposed to take in children in conflict with the law.
It exempts children under 12 years old from liability, but prescribes that they be subjected to an intervention program.
The report was signed by Senators Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, JV Ejercito, Manny Pacquiao, Francis Escudero, Joel Villanueva, Gregorio Honasan II, Ralph Recto and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The committee members who did not sign were Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Risa Hontiveros, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Nancy Binay, Francis Pangilinan, Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV and Franklin Drilon.
The report also recommended harsher punishments for parents of juveniles who commit crimes.
This would be punishable with reclusion perpetua if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of more than six years, and reclusion temporal if the crime is punishable by six years or less, it said.
The parents, it said, should be primarily liable for civil damages arising out of the actions of the child in conflict with the law, unless they proved they were exercising supervision over the child and exerted effort to prevent the child from committing another offense.
Meanwhile, Pimentel has filed a resolution asking the Senate to look into the local governments’ failure to build Bahay Pag-asa centers before it discusses moves to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
Classifying younger children as criminals could potentially rob them of their innocence, he said in his resolution.
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