MANILA - United Nations rapporteur and vocal administration critic Agnes Callamard slammed the move of Filipino lawmakers to lower the age of criminal liability to as low as 9 years old, saying it is a “dangerous and potentially deadly proposal.”
“Just shameful,” Callamard said in a tweet, as she cited a study showing the brain function reaches maturity only at around 16 years old.
“If children as young as 9 years old are criminally mature and already capable of discernment, then why is the legal age to enter marriage, legal contracts and employment in the Philippines at 18 years old?”
The Palace, however, slammed Callamard for “[dipping] her fingers on the domestic affairs of our country.”
“What is ‘dangerous and potentially deadly’ is her intrusive and ignorant theorem on how a sovereign state deals with its problem with criminality,” Panelo said in a statement.
“Dr. Callamard would do well by restraining herself from using her UN post in continuing her interference in the country’s domestic affairs while waging a political agenda of demolition against the President through her obviously unstudied accusations and parroting false information, a process that certainly diminishes the credibility and respectability of the UN Special Rapporteur mechanism.”
Panelo stressed that the proposed measure will not allow minors 9 to 18 to go to jail. He said minors in conflict with the law will instead be brought to youth care facilities “supervised by a multi-disciplinary team, which includes doctors, psychologists and social workers, among others.”
“We are confident that Congress in legislating such law will ensure that due considerations on the protective rights of the child are weighed in,” he said.
Panelo added that the intent of the proposed law is to protect children “against criminals who victimize and coerce them to become offenders.”
“The proposed law will deter criminals from using children as their accomplices or in treating them as pawns in committing crimes,” he said.
Critics have slammed the legislative proposal, saying the government is apparently bent on going after small fry while it fails to put big-time criminals behind bars.