Go after syndicates, not children in conflict with the law – Colmenares

Mara Cepeda
Senatorial candidates Neri Colmenares and Sonny Matula both oppose lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility

NO TO LOWERING MACR. Leftist leader Neri Colmenares is against lowering the minimum criminal liability age. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna senatorial bet Neri Colmenares opposes lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, saying the government should go after syndicates instead. 

Colmenares and labor leader Sonny Matula were asked for their stance on lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old during Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant forum on Monday, March 4. 

“Sabi nila ang dahilan kasi ang mga bata daw ginagamit ng mga sindikato sa krimen. Eh ‘di habulin mo ang sindikato! Dahil hindi niyo mahabol-habol ‘yong mga sindikato na ‘yan, sa bata ninyo ibabaling ‘yong punishment? My God, that’s really horrible if you’re going to think about that,” said the lawyer turned former lawmaker.

Matula also opposes the proposal, saying children in conflict with the law are mere “victims of circumstance.”

“‘Yong batas sa kasalukuyan na 15 years of age of responsibility ay sang-ayon ako doon. At kung mas mababa pa diyan, siguro ay hindi na nasa advantage ng ating mga kabataan. ‘Yong mga kabataan below 15 na mga biktima lamang ng mga sirkumstansiya na kanilang kinalalagyan,” said Matula. 

In January, the House of Representatives passed on 3rd reading the bill that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old. 

The Senate version of the bill remains pending at the plenary for second reading, but Senate President Vicente Sotto III already said his chamber would prioritize the passage of the measure. (READ: No time for Congress to pass bill on age of criminal liability before polls

The 17th Congress is currently on break for the elections and will resume session in May. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.