PYC: Lowering age of criminal responsibility may prompt crime groups to use younger preys in their operations
Cebu City, Philippines – Reducing the age of “social responsibility” to 12 from 15 years old might make younger children prey to criminal groups who would want to use minors in operating their illegal businesses.
James Canoy, the executive director of the Cebu Provincial Youth Commission (PYC), made the remark amid debates on House Bill 8858 which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006, setting the age of criminal liability to three years younger from 15 years old to 12.
In the same amending bill, the term “criminal liability” has been changed to “social responsibility.”
“When the age for criminal liability was 15, kining mga naghimo og illegal nga negosyo nigamit na sila og younger than 15. Kung i-lower pa nato, basin mogamit pod sila anang mga bata nga mga libud-suroy diha nga 7, 8 or 9 years old. Mahurot na ni atong mga bata,” Canoy said.
(When the age for criminal liability was 15, these people who had illegal businesses used kids whose ages were younger than 15. If we lower it, they might use those street children aged 7, 8 and 9 years old. All our kids will be used.)
“Ikaduha, unsay kasiguraduhan nato nga inig masulod ning mga bataa sa rehab center, mominus ang mga krimen nga asa ni na-involve mga bataa,” he added.
(Second, what is the certainty that these crimes involving children will decrease once these children will be put in the rehab center.)
Canoy also maintained that neither the first proposed nine years old nor 12 years old is “old enough” to be considered as the age of criminal liability.
He said children aged 12 years old, albeit having erred, generally has no capacity to properly discern their actions.
“For me ang 12 (years old) is dili gihapon ko uyon. In the first place, ang problema wala sa mga bata kay wala pa sila on the age nga maka-weigh unsay right and wrong. Kinahanglan pa na sila og guidance sa ginikanan,” Canoy said.
(I still do not agree with the 12 years old. In the first place, the problem is not with the children because they are not yet at the age wherein they can weigh what is right or wrong. They will still need guidance from their parents.)/mga
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