Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday urged lawmakers to work on providing children in conflict with the law a chance for a “new life” instead on focusing solely on harsher punishments, amid moves at the House of Representatives to pass a bill that lowers the age of criminal liability of children from 15 to nine years old.
Describing the proposed passage of the bill as a “very painful” process, VP Leni opposed the House leadership’s push to pass House Bill No. 505, which is expected to be tackled by the House justice committee this coming week. It seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10630, to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to nine years old.
The proposed measure is in line with President Duterte’s repeated calls to lower the age of criminal liability, citing rising cases of crimes committed by minors. House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has thrown her support behind the legislation, in line with the President’s request.
“Napakasakit sa dibdib niyan,” VP Leni said during her weekly radio show BISErbisyong LENI at DZXL-RMN 558 on Sunday.
The Vice President then made an appeal to the lawmakers that instead of punishing minor offenders, they should craft a legislation that would strengthen support programs for juvenile delinquents.
“Sa ating mga kasamahan na mga mambabatas, iyong lowering the age of criminal liability, maawa naman po tayo sa ating mga kabataan,” she said. Imbes na parusahan natin sila, tulungan natin—tulungan natin na makapag-bagong buhay.”
VP Leni suggested the government to shift its focus on fully implementing current laws on juvenile delinquency rather than allowing younger offenders to be charged with crime.
“Admittedly, para sa akin napakagandang batas pero iyong pagkukulang nito, sa implementasyon. Iyong kakulangan ng ating mga ahensya na tugunan iyong intensyon sana ng batas,” she said.