Do you remember when you were 9 years old?
The Filipino youth mourns the move of the lower house of Congress in bringing down the age of criminal responsibility of children from 15 to 9 years old. Instead of strengthening RA 9344 also known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, the government opted to pin the liability on children, fueling the growing disregard to the accountability of the real perpetrators.
The lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility completely violates the fundamental principles of child protection and welfare. The proposed measure also violates the principle that our laws must protect the child’s well-being and development.
It is not surprising for the present Philippine government to disregard basic human rights principles, as it has consistently attacked the concept of human rights through its anti-poor, non-scientific, and shortsighted approach in policy development. Still, the Youth for Human Rights and Democracy is looking at the small light of hope that the government finally realizes and fulfills its commitment not only to domestic laws protecting the welfare of children, but also to international human rights instruments specially the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Y4HRD joins the organizations and groups that are working closely on the issue of the rights and welfare of children in the collective response to prevent the bill from becoming into law. We urge the government, especially now that the measure is set to be heard in the Senate, to rethink its position and to fully and strictly implement RA 9344 instead. We also call on the National Youth Commission to speak out and perform its mandate to prevent this detrimental and anti-youth bill from becoming a state policy.
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