The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading the bill reducing criminal responsibility among minors but amended the measure to set the minimum age of criminal responsibility from nine to 12.
Mindoro Oriental Rep. Doy Leachon, chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said the panel heeded the popular sentiment of their colleagues who were against pegging the age of criminal responsibility to nine-years-old.
House Bill 8858, a consolidation of five measures seeking to amend the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, was approved on second reading with a committee amendment that set the age of criminal responsibility to 12.
Leachon said the committee also agreed to amend the title of the bill by changing the word “criminal” to “social responsibility.”
The measure won initial plenary approval two days after it was presented for debate, with most of the solons rising to interpellate Leachon, pointing out their strong objection to placing nine-year-old children as criminally liable for illegal acts.
Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, one of the authors of the original measure, withdrew his authorship as he stressed that his bill specifically indicated that criminal responsibility be set at age 12.
Tiangco proposed that only children aged 12 to 15 be confined in Bahay Pag-asa rehabilitation houses if they committed serious crimes. Those below 18 will be held in the rehabilitation centers even if they commit minor offenses.
House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro noted that prior to 2006, criminal age was set under the Revised Penal Code at nine.
Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Grace Divine Yu, chairperson of the House Committee on Children’s Welfare, assailed the original version of the bill as a move in the wrong direction as far as disciplining and securing a better future for children is concerned. (Ben R. Rosario)