VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Three things you need to know about crimes committed by minors

During a campaign caravan in Eastern Visayas on March 22, Hugpong ng Pagbabago chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio expressed support for the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR).

The presidential daughter made the comment as authorities investigated the murder of a 16-year-old girl in Cebu City, whose mutilated body was found on March 11. The primary suspect was the victim’s 17-year-old alleged ex-boyfriend.

The lowering of the MACR is meant to address youngsters’ criminality. In numerous speeches before and since winning the 2016 polls, the older Duterte has said that Republic Act 9344, authored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, has produced a “generation of criminals” that have grown up with “no sense of accountability” because of a lax juvenile justice law.

Specifically, Duterte likes to describe the younger generation as perpetrators of heinous crimes: “murderers,” “rapists,” “thieves,” and “drug couriers” of crime syndicates.

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Jan. 28 holding children as young as 12 years old criminally liable for their actions — three years younger than the current age limit of 15.

However, are the crimes committed by the country’s children as heinous as Duterte makes them out to be? Here are three things you need to know.

The number of children in conflict with the law (CICL) has recently gone down

According to Philippine National Police data, reported cases of CICL have been reduced by almost a fifth from 2016 to 2018. Under RA 9344, CICL refer to children who are “alleged as, accused of, or adjudged as having committed an offense under Philippine laws.”

From 14,389 cases in 2016 and 14,409 in 2017, PNP recorded just 11,324 incidents of CICL last year, a reduction of about 21 percent.

Minors’ crimes account for only 2% of total crimes nationwide

Crimes committed by minors in 2018 only made up 2.3 percent of the total 473,068 crimes recorded by PNP that year, as reported by several news organizations.

The figure is about the same in 2016 and 2017, when offenses incurred by minors only made up 2.46 percent of the 583,774 crimes recorded in 2016 and 2.77 percent of the total 520,641 crimes in 2017.

Top offenses by kids not heinous crimes

PNP data on CICL obtained by VERA Files shows that the top three offenses committed by minors from 2016 to 2018 are physical injury, theft, and malicious mischief resulting in damage to property.

The three also account for about 40 percent of the total CICL cases for each year.

Previous news reports also citing PNP data have placed rape, a heinous crime, among the top three minors’ crimes in 2017 and second overall from 2016 to 2018.

However, VERA Files’ CICL data from the PNP tells a different story. Broken down by region to show the number of underage offenders of each of the 100 crimes recorded in 2016, 101 in 2017 and 116 in 2018, the data shows rape was the sixth most common offense in 2017, as well as sixth overall in the past three years.

More, while Duterte was correct in saying theft is a common crime of minors , theft cases have actually been on a downward trend since 2015.

Murder has consistently ranked 15th for the past three years, with less than 150 cases each year.




GMA News Online, PHL embassy protests Washington Post story on killings, Feb. 26, 2019, Duterte, Cayetano want minimum age of criminal liability lowered to 12, Feb. 2, 2016

Manila Standard, PH-US defense pact likely item in Pompeo visit, Feb. 27, 2019, PNP: Total crime volume down in 2018, Feb. 26, 2019

Philippine National Police, Data on Reported Children in Conflict with the Law Incident (CIRAS) 2016 to 2018.

Philippine National Police website, Form A PNP Performance Accomplishments FY 2016, n.d.

Philippine National Police website, Form A PNP Performance Targets and Accomplishments FY 2017, n.d.

Presidential Communication Operations Office, Media interview of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte following the groundbreaking ceremony of the new site of the San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital, Jan. 29, 2019

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 35th founding anniversary of Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM), Nov. 22, 2018

Radio Television Malacanang, Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte During the 7th Anniversary of Buhay OFW and Anti-Trafficking OFW Movement (ATOM) Launch, Oct. 18, 2017

Sun Star Davao, Duterte-Cayetano tandem vow to amend Juvenile Justice Law, Feb. 2, 2016

The Freeman, Duterte-Cayetano tandem eyes revision to Juvenile law, Feb. 4, 2016


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)