BACOLOD City Councilor Caesar Distrito, chairperson of the city council committee on laws, said on Tuesday, January 22, he is not in favor of lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old.
“The problem with one or two children cannot be considered as a problem to be presumed from millions of other children,” he said.
He added they still need guidance and being in the formative years, they can still be guided by the institutions such as the family, church, and schools.
The House committee on justice earlier approved a bill lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old.
The bill substituted House Bills 2, 505, 935, 1609, 2009 and 3973, or “An Act Amending Certain Provisions of RA (Republic Act) 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” and House Bill 3973, “An Act Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) Amending RA 9344.”
“There can be a lot of interventions rather than imposing penalties to children. Or maybe as an alternative, certain crimes can be qualified for those children like drug trafficking, murder, and rape,” Distrito said.
The original MACR in the Revised Penal Code was nine years old, and this was only changed after almost 70 years in 2006 upon the effectivity of RA 9344, which increased the MACR to 15.
Meanwhile, the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) supports the bill seeking to lower the criminal age.
“Regardless of age, for as long as there's a crime committed, the perpetrator must be punished, but the punishment does not mean he should be jailed. There should be ‘right and proper’ intervention to a child in conflict with the law,” said Chief Inspector Edison Garcia, public information officer of Nocppo, quoting Senior Superintendent Romeo Baleros, officer-in-charge of Nocppo.
They should also undergo a due process, he added.
Garcia said there are criminal groups which use children or minor in committing a criminal offense but such case is not rampant in the province.
For the Bacolod City Police Office, Chief Inspector Ariel Pico, public information officer, said they will follow the rulings from the higher headquarters. (with reports from Glazyl Y. Masculino)