IDEALS, Inc.’s Statement on the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility
This administration is failing an entire generation of Filipino children. Thousands are already orphaned from the bloody anti-drug campaign. Now, under a proposed legislation, they will be jailed and tried as hardened criminals.
On January 28, Congress passed on third and final reading House Bill 8858, which lowers the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to 12 years old. In an effort to soften public backlash against it, the bill “raised” its initial proposal of setting the age to merely nine years old, and reworded “criminal responsibility” to “social responsibility.” This, however, is just a ruse to sugarcoat the cruel backwardness catalyzed by the Duterte administration.
Based on data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), only 1.72% of total crimes are committed by children and youths. Majority are petty crimes such as theft of cash and food items— crimes that are often rooted into deeper social and economic issues.
We decry the halting of young lives by a criminal justice system that will be made even more cruel if such a legislation is enacted, especially when convicted politicians enjoy their liberties and run free. Passing this bill will effectively whip scapegoats instead of cracking down on the big fish that manipulate the children, further promoting marginalization among the people.
IDEALS Inc. is one with the broad alliance of child rights advocates in fiercely condemning the lowering of the MACR to 12 years old. Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that children in conflict with the law must be treated “in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth… and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration” in society.
We challenge the Duterte Administration to stop making criminals out of its citizens and abandon its fixation on punitive justice and dangerous shortcuts. The State is duty-bound ‘to ensure that children grow up in a safe environment protected from crime and violence,” not rob them of their lives and the opportunity to reintegrate and become future contributors to the development of society.
#JailNoChild #ChildrenNotCriminals #Not12Not9
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