Welcome to another week.

The news this month that the Speaker of the House of Philippine Congress filed two proposed laws, which would lower the age of criminal responsibility for children to 9 years old and reintroduce the death penalty by hanging, went largely unnoticed.

The proposal is in response to the country’s illegal drug trade, where syndicates often use young children as drug pushers. These syndicates are taking advantage of current legislation which exempts children 15 years old and under from any criminal liability. An association of private schools in the country has backed the proposal.

If passed, the laws would affect a significant number of vulnerable children, many of whom are neglected, homeless and easy prey for drug lords looking for low risk options to move their narcotics.

The government has previously tried to tackle the illegal drug trade by placing bounties on drug lords‘ heads, however the amounts offered are significantly smaller than what drug lords themselves can offer for their personal protection. Drug lords in the country have recently retaliated by offering their own much larger bounties for the head of the Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte.

Lowering the age of criminal responsibility in this context goes hand in hand with the introduction of death by hanging. Those in favour of the death penalty suggest that it offers retribution, acts as a deterrent, prevents crime and incentivises people to cooperate with police.

Those against the death penalty argue that it devalues life, could lead to the execution of innocent people, breaches the right to life principle and brutalises society.

Our question then, is just this: do you think criminalising children in The Philippines is the solution to resolving the country’s illegal drug trade?

Philippines children.JPG