MANILA - Lowering the age of criminal responsibility, whether 9 or 12, is immoral, unnecessary, and ineffective, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Thursday.
"Parehong bata, parehong menor de edad, parehong hindi pantay sa ating mga adults 'yung kakayahan mag-discern ng tama at mali," she told "Bandila sa DZMM."
To address juvenile delinquency, the government must first assess the implementation of the law instead, she said.
"Dapat ganap muna nating ipatupad 'yan bago tayo mag-amend," the senator added.
Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 exempts children 15 years old and younger from criminal liability.
Hontiveros said the law is severely underfunded and proper infrastructures are not in place.
"In an ideal world, lahat ng probinsiya at highly-urbanized cities ay may Bahay Pag-asa. In actuality, napakakaunti ng ganung klase ng imprastruktura," she said.
Data from the Juvenile Justice Welfare Council showed that there are only 58 operational Bahay Pag-asa centers nationwide.
The senator considers the proposed measure at the lower chamber as anti-poor.
"Karamihan sa children in conflict with the law ay mahirap na, kulang pa sa formal schooling. Nasa mararahas na situwasyon," she said.
The bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12, instead of 9, was approved on second reading at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Holding juvenile offenders accountable for crimes committed at lower age, like in Western countries, is not an effective way to deter repeat offense, Hontiveros also said.
"'Yung mga bansang mababa ang minimum age of criminal responsibility, mataas ang repeat offense, mataas ang repeat incarceration. Parang binabaon ang mga bata nila sa isang malalim na balon na mahirap, hirap nang mag-extricate habang tumatanda," she said.
"Di ba sabi ni dating President Magsaysay, those who have less in life, should have more in law," she added.