MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday said Miss Universe Catriona Gray may have been “misinformed” about the lowering of minimum criminal age of criminal responsibility and should be “educated” about the matter.
Gray, who had volunteered to help children living in the slums, said in an interview that the country should “readjust” its focus and determine why children commit crimes.
The beauty queen added that children are not predisposed to commit crimes and the nation should therefore focus on eradicating “external pressures” that make them go astray.
Asked to react on Gray’s remarks, Panelo said the beauty queen seemed to have been “misinformed” by the government’s critics.
“She should be educated… She may have been misinformed of the facts, given the opposition to the lowering [of minimum age of criminal responsibility] comes from the administration critics,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Panelo stressed that under the proposed measure, minors who get involved in crimes are sent to youth care facility for intervention and rehabilitation and not mixed with adults in ordinary detention cells.
“From the very start, their opposition is, ‘Why will you jail them?’ We won’t jail them. We are going to rehabilitate them,” Panelo said.
“Perhaps the Miss Universe did not understand it. We are precisely focusing on the problem, because the problem is they are engaged in crimes.”
The House of Representatives already passed a bill that lowers the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12. The Senate is also working on a similar measure.
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.