THE Department of Education and other social development
agencies of the government are opposed to the lowering of the age of
discernment to nine years old and even to 12 years old.
This was underscored by Education Secretary Leonor Briones in a talk to newsmen at the sideline of the opening ceremonies of the 2019 National Festival of Talent on January 29 at CSI Stadia, where she was the keynote speaker.
Biones said that as early as 2016, DepEd and social agencies of the government already submitted a position paper opposing the lowering of the age of discernment.
“How many million 9-year-old children are there in the Philippines, relative to all those suspected of being used for drug abuse?, How many million 12-year olds are there? How many million 15-year olds are there too? We have to know the number of children who will be directly affected by this proposed law,” Briones said.
On PNP’s claim that many children are already being used by drug syndicates, Briones asked: “How many million of these children are really estimated to be being used as drug couriers or drug carriers?”
She said DepEd and the social development agencies would like to also know the measures being introduced to address drug abuse by children and in their use as couriers or whatever involving different crimes can be solved.
Briones believes that there are alternative ways of solving the problem on the use of children by adults for crimes other than lowering the of age of social or criminal responsibility, adding that it is also important to know the crimes are covered by the proposed law.
She cited an example, when a child grab his fellow child’s cellphone or grab each other’s cellphone or their food and charges are filed against these children, their criminal record will be there all their lifetime.
Briones lamented that the House of Representatives passed the measure when it was not yet fully determined when a Filipino child has already reached the age of discernment or the age when he or she knows what is wrong and what is not wrong.
She said it is important for parents to be involved in the debate.
She admitted that DepEd is now studying the revised bill and is looking for example at the available studies internationally, like from the United Nations, UNESCO and other world bodies. (Leonardo Micua)
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