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Students reject lower age of criminal liability

LEGAZPI CITY --- A bill in Congress that seeks to lower the age for criminal liability from 15 years old to 9 years old was rejected by finalists in the search for “10 Outstanding Students for Bicol” or TOSB.

The finalists, who were selected by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and AKO Bicol Partylist representatives from among nominees from various private and state colleges and universities in the region, gave their views on a wide range of legislative measures currently being debated on in Congress during interview sessions with Albay-based media persons Wednesday. The media persons, most of them affiliated with the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas, and working for provincial, regional and national media outfits, are engaged in multi-media platforms such as print, radio, television, social media and online. TOBS opened its search to Bicolano students enrolled in different higher education institutions, within and outside of the Bicol region, who have shown exemplary performance in scholarship, leadership and service. Among the 20 finalists, 17 were against the proposed bill while two were in favor and one was absent. Like most of his co-finalists in the search, Dan Mark Paniterce, a student of Bachelor of Science in Food Management from Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges, believes lowering the minimum age for criminal liability to 9 years old is not appropriate and timely. “We are not yet ready, we don’t have enough facilities that are funded and well-equipped for the children who are arrested,” he said. Paniterce said lawmakers must first focus on addressing poverty since criminality is associated with this problem. “Maybe those children are exposed to criminality because of poverty,” the finalist added. Meanwhile, Karen Kay Bagacina of the University of Saint Anthony asserted that “children in conflict with law are not considered as prisoners”. “They will be put in a Bahay Pag-asa by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) wherein they will undergo seminars and trainings in order to renew themselves,” she added. Bagacina believes that by lowering the age of criminal liability, children will be safer from those adults using children as medium in committing crimes. The final 10 winners in the annual search, that was launched in 2009, will be awarded after a series of panel interviews and essay writing. CHED and AKB said TOSB aims to recognize the hard work and contribution of Bicolano students in local and national development, a vision shared by the two award-giving bodies. The 20 finalists to the search are: In Iriga City, University of Northeastern Philippines or UNEP—Karla Marie Daza, Jane Menchie Lucena, Amira Toni Jo Dacillo, Allan Rey Gecoso; and University of Saint Anthony (USANT)—Jason Perez, Hazel Monte, Toni Venessa No, Karey Kay Bagacina and Archie Bulalacao. Dan Mark Paniterce of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges; Ruby Jane Bandola, Mary Grace Basbas—all from University of Nueva Caceres or UNC in Naga City; Frenchie Apring of Mariners Polytechnic Colleges, Inc. - Naga Campus; Shaina Mae Benavidez of Catanduanes State University (CSU) from Catanduanes; Marialle Cheska Oclos and Joshua Andrada of University of Sto. Tomas; and Christine Joy Gipit of Bicol University -- both in Legazpi City; Rodly Marcelo of Ligao Community College, Mark Ll. Miraflor of Daraga Community College and Jobert Ronabio of Partido State University -- Goa, Camarines Sur. The final 10 winners in the search will be chosen on the basis of scholarship -- 3 points, leadership -- 2.0 points, service -- 2.0 points, and essay/interview -- 3 points. (PNA)

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