Sotto hopeful 17th Congress will pass bill lowering minimum age of criminal liability

Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed optimism that the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal liability will be passed by the Senate before the 17th Congress ends in June.

In a press conference, Sotto said that there is still hope for the bill’s third reading approval within the current Congress as sessions resume from May 20 to June 7.

Oo. May pag-asa, pwede. May pag-asa ‘yun, sigurado tatalakayin namin (There is still hope. We will surely tackle it),” Sotto said.

“But if not, then in the 18th Congress, mas malamang (But if not, there is a higher chance for the measure to be passed in the 18th Congress),” he added.

Sotto said the bill would be part of the agenda during the majority caucus set on Monday next week, wherein they will discuss the priority measures that needed to be passed in the final three weeks of the 17th Congress.

The measure has reached the Senate plenary for debates, while its counterpart at the House of Representatives has been approved on third and final reading.

The Senate bill proposes that “a child below 12 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from liability. However, the child shall be subjected to an intervention program pursuant to this Act.”

“A child 12 years of age and above but below 18 years of age shall likewise be exempt from liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless the child has acted with discernment, in which case such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with this Act,” the bill reads.

Those who commit a serious crime would be sent to Juvenile Reformatory Centers, also called “Bahay Pag-asa,” it added.

These serious crimes involve parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping, serious illegal detention where the victim is killed or raped; robbery with homicide or rape, destructive arson, rape; or carnapping, where the driver or occupant is killed or raped, or offenses under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that are punishable by more than 12 years in prison.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will be responsible for building, funding and operating “Bahay Pag-asa,” the allocations for which will be included in the budget of the DSWD in the annual General Appropriations Act. (PNA)

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