Press Release
January 21, 2019


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on proposals to lower the age of criminal liability

Lowering the age of criminal liability is criminally short-sighted.

Getting tough on children in conflict with the law while being lenient with big-time drug lords, smugglers and plunderers is not getting tough on crime, it is the promotion of a greater crime against our children and a case of not going after the real menace to our country.

Children in conflict with the law (CICL) is a real issue. I completely understand the public's real concerns about their safety, livelihood and property and the need for them to be addressed. Alam ko ang pangamba ng publiko sa mga menor de edad na sangkot sa pambabato ng mga sasakyan, bentahan ng droga, nakawan at karahasan. But to simply imprison minors is not the solution. While some of them may have committed grave offenses, and will be held accountable under our laws, many of them simply lost their way due to poverty and lack of opportunities and are looking for chances to be rehabilitated.

The real tough and strategic response to this matter is to strengthen and fully implement the existing Juvenile Justice Law while we improve socio-economic conditions and eliminate poverty. Juvenile penal systems focused on rehabilitation and education programs are more effective at reducing crime than simply imprisoning children.

Second, there is a serious need for lawmakers, police and barangay officials to fully understand the Juvenile Justice Law. The idea that the current law does not punish children who commit crimes is wrong. Under the law, they will still be apprehended, subjected to appropriate interventions and diversion programs as mandated by law and held civilly liable through their parents.

Instead of going after children, this government can make a real difference by getting tough on big-time drug lords, smugglers and plunderers like Peter Lim, the pork barrel lawmakers and the Marcoses. These are the people who push the poor and the vulnerable into crime. These people turn our children into victims by exploiting both their poverty and their desperation.

We should go after those who put our children in harm's way. We shouldn't put them in harm's way ourselves.

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