CAGAYAN de Oro City councilor Reuben Daba on Tuesday, January 22, said the measure that seeks to lower the criminal age of liability to nine years old from 15 will not solve the country's problem on criminality involving children.
Daba said he does not favor the proposal as it would only worsen the issue on juvenile delinquency in the country.
Daba, chairman of the city council for the protection of children, said the government should instead restore the criminal age of responsibility to 12 years old based on the 1935 Constitution.
He said the government should also focus on addressing the Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL), build rehabilitation centers for juvenile delinquents and administer proper interventions.
"It will not solve criminality involving children but mosamot pa hinoon. Kung ibutang nimo nang 9 years old sa dagko nga prisohan uban sa mga adults ang tendency ana mosamot na ka daotan," Daba said.
"Dapat tan-awon sa gobyerno unsaon ang intervention pagbuhat og boot camp and CICL rehabilitation kay para ma rehab dili kay paubsan na hinoon sa 9 years old nga ang huna-huna ana is dula ra man," he added.
But Daba's colleague in the city council, Councilor Edna Dahino favored the measure saying the government would, in a way, address the problem on children involved in crimes, especially those being used by big syndicates and hardcore criminals.
Dahino believes the proposal underwent numerous consultations and evaluations before it was raised and approved in the house committee level.
"I think it was a result of consultations. I do believe nga its proper kay para matutokan kining mga bata nga dili na mapahimuslan ug magamit sa daotan," Dahino said.
Superintendent Mardy Hortillosa, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), said records from the police showed that people involved in different crimes are getting younger.
"Usa ang PNP sa source ngano nahimo kana nga proposal kay sa atong record nagkabata ang mga gahimo sa krimen," Hortillosa said.
Hortillosa said lowering the criminal age of responsibility will surely lessen criminality, if not totally solved.
"Kabalo ta nga kabalo ang atong mga lawmakers unsaon kini kay ila man kining gi-studyhan so paabot lang mi sa resulta," Hortillosa said.
Hortillosa's counterpart in the Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao (PRO-10), Superintendent Surki Serenas said they will just wait until the proposal is approved "as the voice of the people is the supreme law."
"We will be educating our personnel about the law and the way we could enforce it with little detrimental effect on a child. The details might be specified in the law or the IRR," Serenas said.
"I believe our lawmakers are aware of the international convention on children protection. There will certainly be safeguards like distinction between children and adults. If not, this law could be unfavorable to children in conflict with the law," he added.
Serenas said the measure might deter habitual minor criminals, but not those first time offenders.
"Oftentimes, children commit crime due to their impulsive nature. These first time offenders are not really criminals and must not be treated as the usual adult criminals," Serenas said.