CBCP to lawmakers: Reconsider move to lower criminal age

CBCP to lawmakers: Reconsider move to lower criminal age

CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles (center) answers questions from the media during a press conference after the bishops’ plenary assembly in Mania, Jan. 28. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

January 28, 2019

Manila, Philippines

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Monday appealed to legislators to do some “serious rethinking” on the proposal to lower the age of criminal liability in the country.

In a pastoral statement issued shortly after their plenary assembly in Manila, the bishops warned that the move could harm than protect the children.

“There is no way we can call ourselves a civilized society if we hold children in conflict with the law criminally liable,” they said.

According to them, children who get involved in crimes are “victims that need to be rescued” instead of treating them as ordinary criminals.

The bishops noted that children who get involve in crimes come from “very poor families and were born and raised in an environment of abuse”.

The House of Representatives also on Monday approved a measure which seeks to make child offenders as young as 12 liable for crimes.

The lawmakers earlier sought to reduce the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine, and then revised it to 12.