It’s foolish to treat kids as adults – Ateneo president
MANILA, Philippines – It would be foolish to hold children to the same standards as adults, Ateneo de Manila University president Father Jose Ramon Villarin said Friday.
Villarin made the remark in light of efforts of Congress to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR), reiterating the university’s opposition toward such moves.
“Congress has revived its efforts at lowering the minimum age of criminal liability. We voiced our opposition to the move two years ago, and we reiterate our position then,” Villarin said in a statement posted on the university’s official Twitter account.
He pointed out that “children are not little adults,” therefore, criminalizing them “subverts” the hope for reform and rehabilitation.
“Given that a child’s development, both physically and emotionally, is still in flux, it would be foolish to hold children to the same standards as adults,”
“Placing children in the same facilities as adults subverts whatever hope we have for reform and rehabilitation,” he added.
— Ateneo de Manila (@ateneodemanilau) January 25, 2019
Villarin said that Congress was ignoring decades worth of research in child and adolescent psychological and social behaviors as it contemplates on “returning to an outdated standard set almost 90 years ago.”
He insisted that instead of lowering the MACR, the government should instead strengthen the implementation of the existing law.
“The law does not need to be changed. What needs to be done is strengthen the implementation of the law,” Villarin said.
“Let us spend more energy and resources on getting children educated, raised in homes of love and safety, capable of entering the workforce in adulthood,” he added.
The House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill seeking to lower the MACR from 15 to 12 years old, higher than the earlier proposal of nine years old.
On Friday, the Senate committee on justice and human rights tackled bills also seeking to lower the MACR. /jpv
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