Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday suggested that parents should also be conscious of their children’s criminal accountability.
“Baka (Maybe) Congress can introduce provisions to that. Na (that) in case of children committing crimes, parents proved to be neglectful then they should also be accountable,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“I think there should be some kind of punishment to the parents also if they are neglectful either deliberately or recklessly. Supposed to be the parents are the trainors of children, the molder of children to become righteous individuals and good citizens,” he added.
Panelo, however, said that it will be up to lawmakers to decide on the matter since it was only an idea floated by the President.
“The President is expressing an idea. It is again on the part of Congress to realize such -- if they are open to that, then they can do something about it,” Panelo said.
Panelo also assured anew that children aged nine-years-old but below 18 years of age will not be imprisoned but will instead undergo “rehabilitation”.
He emphasized that before the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 (RA 9344) was signed into law, the Revised Penal Code set the age of criminal liability to nine-years-old.
The Juvenile Justice Welfare Act, authored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability.
“I think the opposition is based on the incarceration of children. Hindi yata alam ng marami that this, iyong nine-years-old eh dati nang batas iyon eh -- for decades iyon ang ating batas, wala namang nagrereklamo doon ever since (Not many know this, in the previous law, the age of criminal liability is nine years old -- for decades but nobody really complained),” Panelo said.
“Actually, nine dati na ‘yan eh (It was nine-years-old before). But even during the previous law, under the previous law wala rin namang(there was no) incarceration -- its rehabilitation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Panelo said the government was willing to allocate funds for youth care facilities to rehabilitate children in conflict with the law.
Earlier, lawmakers expressed concern that there are currently no funds appropriated for the construction of Bahay Pag-asa centers in the 2019 national budget.
“If it’s a matter of funding, then let’s put some funds or more funds,” Panelo said.
The House of Representatives earlier approved on second reading a bill meant to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years to 12 years, not nine as earlier proposed.
Duterte said he was “comfortable” with 12-years-old as the minimum age for criminal liability.