Bicam yet to set minimum age for juvenile offenders-A A +A
Friday, February 1, 2013
MEMBERS of the bicameral conference committee tasked to reconcile the House and Senate versions on proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act are yet to agree whether or not to lower the age of criminal responsibility.
Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento, a member of the House contingent, said the bicam will meet again on Monday, just two days before Congress goes on break for the campaign period.
"Hopefully, we will be able to send the bicam report for ratification if an agreement is reached by Monday," Sarmiento said in a text message.
Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles, also a member of the bicam, said the most contentious issue is whether or not to adjust the minimum age of criminal liability for youth offenders who acted with discernment from 15 years old to 12.
"The Senate version wants to retain it at 15 years old, meaning 15 years old and below are exempt from criminal responsibility. The House of Representatives want to lower it to 12, meaning those 12 years old and below are exempt, while those more than 12 to 15 years old are exempt unless acted with discernment," Nograles said.
Sarmiento said the bicam is considering a compromise that would reduce the age of discernment to 12 for heinous offenses only, such as murder and rape.
The proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act also calls for the imposition of stiffer penalties for those who are found guilty of taking advantage of children to carry out criminal activities to deter the exploitation of juveniles.
Another provision is the transfer of supervision and control of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council from the Department of Justice to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The bill likewise defines the responsibility of parents in the supervision of their children and provides assistance to victims of offenses committed by children. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)