DOJ chief says lowering age of criminal responsibility must be studied carefully
MANILA, Philippines–Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said lowering the age of criminal responsibility “should be considered very carefully” as a means of protecting them from being exploited by criminal elements.
Speaking before the National Summit on the Dangerous Drugs Law at the Manila Hotel, Guevarra said by lowering the age of criminal responsibility is another means by which the government can stop the illegal drug trade in the country.
Under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, children aged 15 and below are exempt from criminal responsibility.
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“As it now stands, the law enacted to protect and care for our children has incentivized their exploitation and engagement into the shady world of drug trafficking and dealing,” Guevarra said as he pointed out that the children are being used as drug couriers because of the protection provided by law.
“Somehow, if you reduce the age of criminal responsibility to maybe something like 12 [it may work against the] criminal syndicates who use very young children in their nefarious activities,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra explained that what he is saying is but a mere suggestion that Congress could consider.
“Work on these proposals must complement and supplement the initiatives of the Executive, including those of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs and the Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force created through Executive Order No. 15, series of 2016,” Guevarra said.
“Our task is to fortify our laws and legal processes against the purveyors of dangerous drugs. Our joint efforts should effectively place our children and their future out of reach of those who seek to exploit and destroy them,” he added.
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