MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte is open to making parents accountable for the crimes committed by their children, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after the House of Representatives justice panel approved a bill lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old despite strong opposition from various groups.
“Given the action of the President as (former) mayor, he is open to making the parents accountable for the criminal acts of the children if the law says that they can be criminally accountable because right now hindi pa puwede (they’re not yet),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said that while the Palace will leave it to lawmakers to decide on what penalties to impose on parents, he said they can be jailed or deprived of parental custody over the children.
Although the President has earlier expressed his desire to lower the age of criminal liability, Panelo was unsure whether Duterte was in favor of the House measure lowering it to nine years old in particular.
“The President did not say naman na particular nine (he wanted the age to be nine), just lower it. We will not question the wisdom of the lawmakers. Nasa kanila na yun (It’s up to them),” Panelo said.
“I’ll ask him para sigurado. Basta ang gusto niya i-lower. Tatanungin natin para mas eksakto (to be sure. What I know is he really wants to lower it. I’ll ask him to get an exact answer),” he added.
Panelo emphasized that if the proposed measure is signed into law, minors aged nine and above may still be made criminally liable if proven that they acted with discernment.
“Sa (In) criminal law, pag may discernment ka na (if you have discernment), you know what is bad, what is good, may problema ka sa batas (you will have a problem with the law). You will be accountable,” Panelo said.
“If the nine year old is intelligent enough, if you can prove na alam niya (that he or she knows) that it’s an illegal item, o e di may discernment na siya (then he already has discernment),” he added.
Panelo also pointed out that the criminal liabilities will be determined by the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Meanwhile, Panelo said he was personally amenable with the idea of lowering the age of criminal liability to nine years old given the youth’s knowledge of the advancements through technology.
“Sa akin puwede na nine. Considering the technology, ang nine puwedeng equivalent to 12, 15 years old na e, may discernment na e (To me, nine is okay. Considering technology, nine can be equivalent to 12, 15 years old, they already have discernment),” Panelo said.
Panelo defended the President’s support to lower the age of criminal liability, describing anew the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 (RA 9344), which exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability, as “a stupid law.”
Duterte himself called the same law, authored by Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as a stupid law for producing criminal minds.
“Lumaki na sila na ganun ang ginagawa nila sa krimen, kasi nga palagi sila nari-release e hanggang nasanay na sila mag commit ng crime. Kaya yan ang bagong henerasyon ng criminal (They grew up committing crime because they are always released until they have grown used to committing crime. That’s the new generation of criminals). That’s why he calls the Pangilinan law a stupid law because it created a generation of criminals,” Panelo said.
Panelo further explained that lowering the age of criminal liability is meant to protect children from being involved in various crimes.
Duterte open to making parents accountable for kids’ crimes
“I think, from the point of view of the President, the law is being used by the criminals to use the children. So to my mind, he wants that amended to protect the children but apparently those opposing it don’t see it that way,” Panelo said.
“It will defer criminals from using the minors. Right now they’re bold in doing it kasi alam nila mare-release lang (because they know those kids will be released). I think the law is geared towards the protection of the minors rather than from the point of view of those opposing it,” he added. PNA -northboundasia.com