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Can parents be held accountable instead for their children’s crimes?

Following the approval by the House of Representatives justice panel of a bill lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine years old, President Rodrigo  Duterte is willing to make parents accountable for the crimes committed by their children, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

However, the law should allow the parents to be criminally accountable instead of their children, Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Monday.

He said it is up to the lawmakers to decide on the penalties to impose on parents; for instance, they can be jailed or deprived of parental custody over the children.

While Duterte earlier said he is in favor of lowering the age of criminal liability, Panelo cannot categorically say if he supports the House measure to specifically bring it down to nine years old.

“The President did not say, in particular, nine; just lower it. We will not question the wisdom of the lawmakers. It’s up to them,” Panelo said.

“What I know is he really wants to lower it. I’ll ask him to get an exact answer,” he added.

Panelo said if the proposed measure is signed into law, minors aged nine and above may still be criminally liable if proven that they acted with discernment.

“In criminal law, if you have discernment, you know what is bad, what is good, you will have a problem with the law. You will be accountable,” he explained.

“If the nine-year-old is intelligent enough, if you can prove that he or she knows that it’s an illegal item, then he already has discernment,” he added.

Panelo said he is personally amenable with lowering the age of criminal liability to nine years old given the youth’s knowledge of the advancements through technology.

Duterte earlier called Republic Act No. 9344, or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 , which exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability, as “a stupid law” for producing criminal minds. This was authored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan. 

“They grew up committing crime because they are always released until they have grown used to committing crime. That’s the new generation of criminals. That’s why he calls the Pangilinan law a stupid law because it created a generation of criminals,” Panelo said.

Panelo added lowering the age of criminal liability is meant to protect children from involvement in various crimes.#