MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old.
House Bill (HB) 8858 initially proposed to lower the criminal liability age to 9. But legislators decided to raise this to 12 years old following strong resistance from opposition lawmakers and other children's rights groups. (READ: Lowering criminal liability age to 12 'still attacks children' – Makabayan)
As a response to the backlash, lawmakers also decided to change all mentions of "criminal responsibility" in the bill to "social responsibility." But they neither defined "social responsibility" nor differentiated it from criminal responsibility.
The intent of the bill, therefore, remains the same: When a child 12 to 18 years old commits a serious crime, he or she would be sent to the Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center inside the nearest youth care facility, also called Bahay Pag-asa.
These serious crimes involve parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping, serious illegal detention where the victim is killed or raped, or violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that is punishable by more than 12 years in prison.
Often, the conditions in Bahay Pag-asa facilities are dismal, so children in conflict with the law (CICL) do not get the proper rehabilitation they need. (READ: When 'Houses of Hope' fail children in conflict with the law)
HB 8858 was passed on 2nd reading on Wednesday, January 23, which means the measure is only one step away before successfully hurdling the House.
Here are the highlights of HB 8858:
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