MANILA- The House of Representatives justice panel swiftly approved on Monday a bill seeking to lower the criminal age of liability to 9 years old.
The bill seeks to amend provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 which exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability.
While it still has a long way to go before becoming a law, here are some key provisions of the bill:
CHILDREN BELOW 9 YEARS OLD
1. Children below 9 years old at the time the crime was committed are exempted from criminal liability. They, however, shall be subjected to an intervention program.
2. If taken into custody, authorities should immediately release the child to the parents or guardian, or nearest relative. The child shall be subjected to a community-based intervention program.
3. No child below 9 years of age shall be committed to a youth care facility known as "Bahay Pag-asa."
CHILDREN 9 YEARS OLD AND ABOVE
1. Children from 9 years old to 17 years old will be deemed criminally liable for an offense if they acted with discernment.
2. If found by authorities to be dependent, abandoned, neglected or abused by the parents, the child will be placed in a youth care facility.
3. Children from 9 years old to 15 years old who commit the following serious crimes shall be deemed a "neglected child" and will be placed in a special facility within a youth care facility:
- serious illegal detention
- drug-related offenses
4, A child above 9 years old up to 18 who commits an offense for the second time or more and has been previously deemed a "neglected child" shall undergo an "intensive intervention program" supervised by the local social welfare and development officer.
PARENTS AND GUARDIANS
1. Any person who uses, takes advantage of, or profits from the use of a child for a commission of a crime shall be punished either by:
- reclusion temporal if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of 6 years or less
- reclusion perpetua if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of more than 6 years.
2. Parents of a child in conflict with the law may be required to undergo counseling or any intervention depending on the recommendation of authorities.
3. Parents of a child who commit any of the serious crimes and of children who are repeat offenders shall undergo mandatory intervention programs including parenting seminars. Failure to do so shall be a ground for imprisonment
1. The court shall impose penalties two degrees lower than what is prescribed in the law for children in conflict with the law.
2. In cases where the law prescribes a fixed period of imprisonment, the period shall be reduced by two-thirds.
3. For crimes punishable by life imprisonment, it will be replaced by imprisonment of up to 12 years.
4. If a child in conflict with the law fails to fulfill with the conditions of the rehabilitaiton program and reaches 18 years of age, the court shall determine whether to:
- discharge the child
- order execution of sentence
- extend the suspended sentence for a certain period of time or until the child reaches the maximum age of 25.