Press Release
August 14, 2013

...says emphasis must be on adults using kids to commit crimes

"We might be missing the point here."

Sen. Nancy Binay today expressed opposition to efforts lowering the age of discernment and criminal responsibility from 15 years to 13 years.

There have been proposals to repeal Book I of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and replace it with a new criminal code which provisions to lower the minimum age of criminal liability (MACL) to 13 years old.

"We are definitely missing the point regarding this issue. Even though we are serious in stopping juvenile crime, lowering the age of criminal responsibility may not be the best way to save children who have gone astray. Tayo dapat ang tagapagbantay ng kapakanan ng ating kabataan. Tayo dapat ang kanilang tanod sa tamang daan at hindi berdugo na tatapos sa kanilang kinabukasan," Binay said.

The lady senator said that instead of creating a child-sensitive justice system, there are others who portray juvenile delinquents as hardened criminals.

"The point that we are driving at is the war against crime, and not war against children," Binay stressed.

Binay said that lowering the age of criminal responsibility will not solve crimes, even petty ones.

"Lowering the criminal age is not the answer. There are many contributing factors that can lead children to crime and we need to address these issues. If syndicates and gangs are using children in the operating their crimes, we must initiate stronger laws to counter them and save the children from the blame. These manipulated youth are also victims. We need to strengthen the fiber of our social systems and not only the penal system," she noted.

Binay also pointed out that the issue about teenagers having better awareness is debatable. She said that children's discernment of issues and the understanding of their actions vary depending on their upbringing and environment.

"We must not and brand juveniles for the wrong that they have done. We can still intervene, shape and save them with the proper education, counseling and support with a holistic approach that will affect their families and surroundings. Kailangan nila ng ating paggabay at kalinga," Binay said.

Binay said putting children to jail will not solve the war against crime, but will only worsen the problem.

"Hindi dapat na tratuhin na parang mga halang na kriminal ang mga bata. They don't deserve to be condemned by society. These kids are practically victims of circumstances," she explained.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) prescribed absolute age of criminal responsibility at 15 years old.

During the 15th Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified House Bill 6052 and Senate Bill 3324 which retained the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 years.

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