MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he learned that some senators are working on repealing a law that sets the minimum age of criminal responsibility, as he again blasted Senator Francis Pangilinan for crafting a law which he said made discerning teens lose their “sense of accountability.”
“Nakipagkita 'yung ibang senador kagabi, ah noong isang gabi. They'll try to repeal the law [Republic Act 9344],” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III has filed Senate Bill 2026 to amend provisions of Republic Act 9344 or the the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, sometimes referred to as the Pangilinan Law.
Through his bill, Sotto is seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 13 "to adapt to changing times." Human rights and children's rights advocates have objected to Sotto proposal.
Currently, children 15 years old and below are exempted from criminal liability. Those aged 15 to 18, meanwhile, are also exempt from criminal liability but will have to be subjected to an intervention program.
An amendment to the law in 2013, through RA 10630, meanwhile, states that children aged 12 to 15 who were involved in serious crimes shall be mandatorily placed at the Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center, which is located within youth facilities called “Bahay Pag-asa” (House of Hope).
Duterte slammed Pangilinan for setting the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 15. The President wants to change the minimum age of criminal responsibility to as low as 9.
“Si Pangilinan, kaibigan ko ito so I don’t want to demean him, but you know, in this life, we have to bind ourselves to what we do. Mahirap 'yang ano eh. Kung ginawa mo, ginawa mo,” he said.
“The entire Philippines for the last two decades, right after the -- itong Pangilinan law, nagkalat.”
“Ngayon, walang mag-amin. Ito naman si pontifical Pangilinan, akala mo walang kasalanan kung magsalita. Siya pa 'yung presidente ng Liberal. Tignan mo, pati siya hindi manalo ‘yan,” he added.
Pangilinan, however, is not up for reelection in next year's mid-term elections. He ran in the Senate race in 2016 and placed 8th.
Prior to his re-election, he served as Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization under the Office of the President. He was first elected as senator in 2001 and served until 2013.