Former lawmaker says poll bets neglecting children
MANILA, Philippines – Former Caloocan City 2nd District Representative Mary Cajayon-Uy on Tuesday said that children are the ‘most marginalized sector’ because they do not have a direct effect during election season — because they cannot vote.
She added that because of this, lawmakers disregarded children’s rights when they pushed for a lower minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to nine.
“Kung titignan natin, we see women as the most marginalized, nandoon na po tayo. Pero ang sektor na pinaka-kuwawa ay ang mga bata, at walang pumapansing pulitiko sa mga bata dahil hindi sila botante,” Cajayon-Uy said during a press briefing at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) office in Quezon City.
(No politician looks after children because they are not voters).
Under Article V, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, only qualified Filipinos at least 18 years old are allowed to exercise their right to suffrage.
Under the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, R.A. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 authored by Senator Francis Pangilinan was passed.
It was the law that set the MACR at 15 years old.
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Justice, on M0nday, approved a bill which, of enacted into law, will reduce the MACR to nine.
Lawyer Ma. Margarita Ardivilla of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said voters have to be wiser and pick candidates who would push for children’s rights.
“Because we’re a democracy, one important mechanism of accountability is coming up, the electoral process. So that is when you can actually make your demands heard,” Ardivilla explained.
Several elected officials who are advocating for the lowering of MACR have claimed that the measure will protect children from being exploited by organized crime syndicates.
The Commission on Human Rights and the Child Rights Network, however, said the bill would only worsen the situation of children inside jail and reformation facilities over the country. /gsg
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