MANILA- Senate President Vicente Sotto III is seeking to lower the criminal responsibility to 13 "to adapt to changing times."
Sotto filed Senate Bill 2026, arguing that the current age of criminal liability in the Philippines is too high even for international standards.
"This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who committed serious criminal offense," he said in a statement.
"You can be held criminally liable if you are above 12 years old," he added in a press briefing Tuesday.
The lawmaker explained that criminal syndicates are abusing the provisions of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by using minors to commit crimes.
The said law exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability.
"Due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times," Sotto said.
Under Sotto's proposal, a child proven to have acted without discernment would be exempt from criminal liability and shall be subject to the appropriate intervention program under the law.
Meanwhile, children aged 9 to 12 years old found guilty of committing serious crimes such as parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping, and homicide, shall be deemed neglected children under the Child and Youth Welfare Code.
These children shall be placed in a special facility within the youth care faculty or Bahay Pag-asa, Sotto said.