PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde expressed Monday, January 21, strong support in lowering the age of criminal liability, saying it will discourage adults from using children as accomplices in illegal transactions.
The House committee on justice approved Monday, January 21, the amendment to Republic Act 10630 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 that sets the criminal responsibility at 15 years old.
Albayalde said lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to 9 years old will deter criminals from using minors particularly in illegal drug transactions, citing incidents where minors were used as drug runners.
“You could just imagine these are being used already as drug runners. Ito ‘yung pinaka runners kasi natututo din ‘yung matatanda na ginagamit ‘yung mga bata dahil alam nila ‘yung mga bata hindi makukulong. So ito ring matatanda ang nakikita natin, nagtuturo dito sa mga bata na sasabihin nila na hindi naman kayo makukulong, hindi kayo pwede ikulong ng pulis, the most that they can do to you is to turn you over sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” said Albayalde in a press conference in Camp Crame.
(The children are being used as drug runners because they will not be imprisoned. So these adults are telling the children to tell authorities that they are minors and the police will not arrest them.)
Albayalde said aside from lowering the age of criminal liability, there should also be a “heavier” criminal liability and sanction to the parents of the children who will be involved in serious crimes, as well as to those who exploited them.
“Yes supposed to be may batas din na yan na kung makuhuli ‘yung ano (bata) that (parents) should be included also. Mas mabigat dapat ‘yung parusa doon sa magulang kung mapatunayan na ginagamit nya ‘yung kanyang anak dito sa hindi maganda or hindi tama o nagva-violate lalo na sa pagtutulak ng droga,” he said.
(There should also be a law that will enforce stiffer penalties for parents who will be found using their children to push illegal drugs.)
Based on PNP records, 14,993 minors, 12 to 15 years old, were involved in crime incidents, particularly theft and physical injuries, in 2014. In 2015, there were 11,616 cases; 11,643 in 2016; and 10,388 in 2017.
From January to August 2018, 5,709 minors were involved in damage to property, theft and physical injury cases. (SunStar Philippines)