Child welfare panel chair favors penalizing youth offenders

THE chairperson of the House committee on welfare of children has expressed her support for the proposal of the Duterte administration to lower the age of criminal responsibility.

Zamboanga del Sur Representative Divina Grace Yu, whose committee is tasked to overlook the needs, education and overall welfare of Filipino children, said she is inclined to agree on penalizing criminal offenders aged at least 12 years old.

"As for me, siguro makakabuti naman sa mga kabataan na i-lower ito kasi nga we have heard reports from the PNP that children aged 15 and below are being used by the syndicates to commit crimes to be able to escape responsibility," she said.

However, Yu clarified that her support for the bill is only her personal view and the decision of her committee will still prevail.

"Personally, I am in favor of lowering the age of criminal responsibility, but as I've said it's not my personal vote or view [that] would matter...I would bring the voice of the majority of the committee," Yu said.

The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, also known as Pangilinan law, raised the criminal age of responsibility from nine years old to 15 years old.

The bill currently pending on the House committee on justice wants to bring the criminal responsibility of child offenders back to nine years old.

A latest Pulse Asia survey showed 55 percent of Filipinos want to keep the current minimum age of criminal liability at 15 years old.

Last weekend, Malacañang said the stance of President Rodrigo Duterte in favor of lowering of the age of criminal liability "remains unchanged". (SunStar Philippines)

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