United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard took to Twitter to criticize the bill in the House of Representatives seeking to lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine years old.
Callamard on Monday called the proposal "shameful" and "potentially deadly" after the House justice committee approved the measure for the consideration of the plenary.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Law, which sets the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 years old. A counterpart measure in the Senate aims to set the age of criminal responsibility at 13.
Thank you to @UNICEF for this crucial reminder: the lowering of criminal responsibility to 9 years old is #Philippines new dangerous and potentially deadly proposal. Just shameful. https://t.co/GzalKkXc6f— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 21, 2019
Reacting to Callamard's remarks, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo slammed the UN rapporteur for "intruding" into the country's sovereignty.
"She should address that to the lawmakers, not to us. What is shameful is ‘yung nakikialam siya, that is shameful when she intrudes into the sovereignty of this country," Panelo told reporters.
Panelo said Callamard has no business interfering with the affairs of Philippine Congress or the Executive department.
He reiterated that foreign observers were only listening to the critics of the administration.
"Let them read the [bill]. I'm not defending Congress. What I'm just saying is before you open your mouth, you better know your facts," Panelo said.
Callamard previously earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for her criticism of his deadly war on drugs, which has killed at least 5,000 suspected drug users and peddlers since taking office in 2016 according to government data. She once said that the approach taken by the Duterte administration only makes the drug problem worse.
The Palace earlier slammed Callamard for coming to the Philippines in 2017 uninvited, and while negotiations on the invitation required for special rapporteurs to investigate in UN member nations were still pending. — RSJ, GMA News