Women’s group urges Senate to reject lower criminal liability age

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 01 2019 08:09 PM

MANILA—A women’s group on Friday urged the Senate to reject the measure seeking to lower the age of “social” liability to 12 years old.

In a statement, The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Foundation Inc. said the bill was “not acceptable.”

“Sure, there is a problem of young children being recruited into criminality. But the punishment for this must be directed at the real criminals, the heartless recruiters, and not at innocent children,” the group said.

“We would like to tell our senators this is not acceptable. A 12-year-old is still a child, incapable of moral and ethical discernment.”

The group instead urged the government to go after criminal organizations.

“Government and society have failed our children. To punish the victims of our failure is to wash our hands off our responsibility, pass the buck, and let the innocent suffer. And that is the worst thing — shameful and criminal — that we adults can do,” it said.

TOWNS Foundation Inc. stressed that the bill will do nothing “to give these children the care and protection they need.”

“It will not shield them from criminal elements, drug syndicates, and the like. It will criminalize them before they even realize the full impact of their deeds. And criminalizing the acts of the very young will further clog our courts and worsen conditions in our already jam-packed jails and detention centers,” it said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday that children in conflict with the law will not serve jail time under the proposal.

The House of Representatives on Monday passed on third and final reading a bill setting the age of responsibility for crimes at 12 years old, from the current 15.

Last week, the Philippine National Police said it favored lowering the age of criminal liability to 12, saying child involvement in crime spiked at such age.