The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through its Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) reiterated its objection to the proposed measure that seeks to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 to 13 years old.

“The children are victims and must not be punished. In fact, they should be protected by going after the alleged syndicate,” Mr. Rodolfo Diamante, Executive Secretary of the CBCP-ECPPC said.

Diamante added that the government should instead improve the implementation of the juvenile justice law.

Backed by the study conducted by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) and the “continuing challenge in the implementation” of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or Republic Act 9344, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III filed Senate Bill 2026 on September 25. The bill seeks to amend RA 9344 particularly its provision on lowering the age of criminal liability

“The State must ensure that those children in conflict with the law who are currently exempted from criminal liability who take advantage of the same must not be given the same privilege”, Sotto said in his explanatory note.

However, Sotto’s reasons were not enough to convince Diamante to change his stance on the issue. He said, “the Senate under his leadership should instead focus on addressing the more serious problems of the country”.

Aside from lowering the age, the bill also stated that only those who acted with discernment shall be held criminally liable for their actions, otherwise the offender “shall be subjected to the appropriate intervention program”. (JT Bernal)

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