By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo remained firm Wednesday in her strong opposition against the proposal that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 years old.
Robredo, a lawyer and former congresswoman, still spoke out against the controversial measure even if its provision to lower the minimum age to 9 years old was changed to 12 by the House of Representatives.
“Kapag tiningnan natin na at the age of 12, puwede nang maging kriminal iyong bata, imagine-nin na lang po natin iyong mga anak natin noong 12 years old sila—wala pang kaalam-alam sa buhay,” she said in an interview in Kiangan, Ifugao.
“Ilalagay natin sa kulungan, makakasama iyong mga hardened na mga criminals. Instead na na-rehabilitate sila, lalo pa tuloy nagkaproblema,” Robredo stressed.
The Vice President and opposition leader reiterated the young offenders are in need of help instead of punishing them.
“Ito, sa akin po, malaking concern pa iyong kahinaan ng ating justice system,” she said.
Robredo then cited the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, of which the Philippines is signatory.
The lady official made the remarks two days after the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 8858 seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.
HB 8858 initially proposed lowering the minimum age of criminal liability to 9 years old, but lawmakers changed it to 12 due to strong opposition from children’s rights groups and other critics.