A leading church official in the Philippines has expressed opposition to a proposal in the country’s congress that will lower the age at which minors can be imprisoned for severe crimes.
Father Rudy Diamante, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Prison and Pastoral Care, said the church is against a bill that has been submitted that will lower the prosecution age to 9 years old.
“It is severe poverty that forces children to commit crimes or break laws,” said Father Diamante in an interview with Radio Veritas.
He urged the government to instead give young people opportunities to combat poverty.
“No child should be in detention. The government should instead provide programs especially for out of school youths,” said the priest.
The country’s Juvenile Justice Law provides that persons ages 15 years old and below cannot be imprisoned for severe crimes such as rape and murder.
It also states that a child above 12 to 15 years old who committed crimes will be deemed a “neglected child” and mandatorily placed in a youth care facility.