Duterte: Young children are being used by drug syndicates

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) — A day after a House committee panel approved the bill lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old, President Rodrigo Duterte said children as young as 6 years old were being used by drug syndicates in their operations.

In his speech at the annual assembly of the Provincial Union of Leaders Against Illegality (PULI) in Lucena City, the President said, "Ang nagme-maintain ngayon ng shabu ang mga bata. Kung may parokyanong makita niya at naghahanap, dadalhin nila doon, pahithitin nila. Sila na ang kokobra, pati ang mga bata shoot na rin sila. As young as 6, 8, 9, 14."

(Translation: The children are now the ones maintaining shabu trade. They will bring it to the customer and take the money. Even the children take drugs as young as 6, 8, 9, 14.)

On Monday, the House Justice committee voted 9-1 to approve a bill which seeks to make child offenders as young as 9 years old liable for crimes.

It was previously set to 15 years old.

Speaking about the bill, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, "From the point-of-view of the President, the law presently is being used by the criminals to use the children. To my mind, he wants that amended to protect the children."

The President has continuously said that the fight against illegal drugs would continue as long as he was in office.

In his speech Tuesday, he stressed this again.

"I will not allow that hanggang mayor ako. P***, hindi talaga ako papayag. Magpatayan tayo dito. Hindi ako — hindi kasi ako nagpapatawag ng Presidente, mayor lang," he said.

[Translation: I will not allow that as long as I am mayor. Son of a b***h, I will not allow it. We can kill each other. Not — I do not like being called President, I prefer mayor.]