Child rights advocates decry move to lower age of criminal responsibility
MANILA, Philippines — Various child rights advocates denounced on Tuesday moves to pass a law that would lower the age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old.
Representatives of Unchain Children, Civil Society Coalition on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippine Action for Youth and Offenders (PAYO), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) aired their views in a briefing at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) office in Quezon City.
CHR Commissioners Leah Tanodra-Armamento and Karen Gomez-Dumpit along with Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Partylist were also present during the press conference.
According to the resource speakers, there is no basis for bringing down the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR), especially since they claim that data from police showed that most of crimes are still being committed by adults and not children.
“98 percent between 2002 and 2015 are committed by adults, only two percent involve children,” Civil Society Coalition’s Marc Alejo said.
“Iilan lamang ang mga bata na nagkaka-sala. You go after ‘don sa mga matatanda. Baka walang magawa ‘yong gobyerno ngayon doon kaya ang pinagdi-diskitahan, ilang porsyento lang ng mga bata,” Brosas added.
At present the MACR in the Philippines is at 15 years old, as mandated by R.A. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act.
The forum came a day after the House of Representatives’ committee on justice approved a bill which lowered the age of criminal liability. The House leadership said the bill is a priority, as it is included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda. /muf
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