The Child Rights International Network (CRIN), a global advocacy group, rejected the proposal of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to lower the age of criminal liability to 12, saying it would criminalize more children.
“We reject in the strongest terms this proposal, which will serve only to criminalise more children and will do nothing to address the underlying reasons that children become involved in crime,” CRIN said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The group added that Sotto’s proposal would ignore the “obvious solution,” which is to go after adults forcing children to commit crimes.
“The suggestion made by Mr. Sotto that this reform will protect children forced to commit crimes by adults is misdirected and ignores the obvious solution, namely the criminalisation of those who exploit children and enforcement of these provisions against adults who involve children in criminality,” the group said.
The group also urged the Senate to dismiss Sotto’s proposal as it would not be the solution to reduce crimes by children.
“As the Senate holds hearings on these reforms, we urge it to reject these regressive measures that will do nothing to reduce crime committed by children,” CRIN said.
On Sept. 25, Sotto filed Senate Bill No. 2026 that seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act No. 9344) exempting children of 15 years old and below from being imprisoned.
Sotto said the bill was meant to criminalize minors being exploited by syndicates in the illegal drug trade.
He cited a study from CRIN, which showed that the average minimum age of criminal liability in Asia and Africa is 11, while in United States and Europe it’s 13.