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Criminal age bill up for final reading

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Congress is set to approve on third and final reading today a bill lowering the minimum age of social responsibility to 12 years old from 15.

“We will try to pass the bill on the minimum age of social responsibility [today],” said House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, the committee on rules chairman.

He made the statement even as Senate President Vicente Sotto III called on the voters to support candidates supportive of the measure that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from to 12 from 15 years old.

The House has approved on second reading the proposed measure lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 after it backtracked on its initial move to lower it to 9 years old.

In the Senate, Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate justice committee, said he will propose the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 after he wrapped up the public hearings on the issue on Friday last week.

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On Jan. 23, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador Paulino Leachon, committee on justice chairman, said the leadership made last-minute changes in the approval of House Bill 8858 on second reading.

From nine as approved by the Leachon panel on Jan. 21, the plenary adopted a version with 12 as the minimum age to determine the liability of a child from 15 years old now.

READ: House bill punishes parents for their children’s offenses

Leachon said the plenary approved the version changing the word “criminal” to “social” to align with the Senate’s version.

“Twelve was the consensus,” he said.

He said the bill, if passed into a law, would protect children from being used by syndicates to commit heinous crimes, such as murder, parricide, infanticide, serious illegal detention, car theft and violation of Republic Act 9165.

He said such child offender would be subjected to a mandatory confinement for rehabilitation at a Bahay Pag-asa center under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Leachon said the measure was “not anti-poor” and “not a ruthless legislation”  but a “pro-children legislative measure.’

He vowed that the records of any child offender would remain confidential.

READ: Duterte: No jail for children, yes for parents

Macon Ramos-Araneta

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