Lower age of criminal liability bucked

Ralph Recto

“WHERE is the science in pegging the age threshold at 9?”

Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto challenged lawmakers who are advocates of lowering the criminal liability to nine years old to show evidence based on studies of the need for such amendments in the law.

“The proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) calls for evidence-based legislation.  It should be grounded on facts, supported by studies. Not on whim, and unproven theories.” Recto yesterday said in a statement.

The senator claimed that if there is an absence of such scholarship study, Congress may be legislating based only on superstition.

“Ilan po ba ang drug lords na 9 years old sa bansa ngayon? Ilan po bang nuebe anyos ang sangkot sa kidnap-for-ransom? Mayroon po bang mga sampung taong gulang na kilabot na carnapper? Sa record ng BOC, ilang onse anyos na ba ang nahuli sa pagpupuslit ng shabu?” Recto asked the proponents of changing the Juvenile Justice Law of the country.

Recto also asked the legislators what their numbers are in the projected drop in the crime index in the country if nine-year old children will be held criminally liable.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros backed Recto’s statement insisting that the law enforcement agency in the country should get tough on big-time criminals and plunderers and not on kids.

She even claimed that 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,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros claimed that she fully understands the concern about “children-in-conflict-with-the-law (CICL)” who are involved in throwing stones at passing cars, involved in illegal drugs, robbery and other forms of violence.

“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,” she said.

She explained that the real solution is the strengthening and full implementation of the existing Juvenile Justice Law while improving socio-economic conditions and eliminating poverty. 

She added that juvenile penal systems focused on rehabilitation and education programs are more effective at reducing crime than simply imprisoning children.