Press Release
January 22, 2019

Villanueva: Lowering Age of Criminal Responsibility Will Not Solve Problem of Juvenile Delinquents

The proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine years old may not cure the defects in the country's juvenile justice system, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

"Instead of punishing children, legislators should work on a policy to place more responsibility to adults who use children to commit crimes such as syndicates," said Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Youth.

"If our problem is that a lot of children are being used to commit crime, then maybe what we should do as policy is to increase the penalty of adults who used kids to commit crime and to improve our intelligence unit and improve our capacity to reduce crime instead of penalizing children who are in fact victims in these situations," Villanueva said in a statement.

"We should also improve our strategies in rehabilitating juvenile delinquents," he continued. "I think the involvement of a number of kids in the commission of crime is an indication that we have failed as a society in protecting our children. Punishing them is not the right approach."

The senator said he is not yet keen on determining the right age for a child to be held criminally responsible because the matter requires more evaluation with the help of experts in child and behavior psychology.

"We have to recognize the fact that children in general have different levels of maturity and discernment. In courts, behavioral psychologists testify to gauge a child's degree of discernment," he explained.

He said he is eager to discuss the details of the Senate counterpart bill with his colleagues to come up with a pragmatic version that addresses the root cause of children in conflict with the law.

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