Gatchalian to oppose bill lowering age of criminal liability to 12
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday said he will oppose the bill seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to 12 years old if it reaches the Senate floor.
Gatchalian said he is not in favor of lowering the MACR because during his time as mayor of Valenzuela City, he was able to implement the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act (JJWA) successfully.
“I am not in favor of lowering down (the MACR) precisely because we have executed the law in Valenzuela. ‘Yung experience namin, maganda. Seventy-five percent ng mga batang pinasok don, nabalik namin sa pamilya, nag-aaral,” Gatchalian told reporters in an interview.
(In our experience, 75 percent of children we took under our custody returned to their families and went back to school).
“Based on our experience from the ground, the current law is enough. Kumpleto na yung batas na ‘yun, hindi lang naeexecute nang mabuti,” Gatchalian said.
(The current law is enough. All it needs is proper implementation).
Gatchalian insisted that it is a matter of implementation, adding that the local government units (LGUs) play a key role in implementing the JJWA , especially in setting up Bahay Pag-asa centers in their localities.
“If may proper facilities, proper intervention program, if the LGU will work, if magtatrabaho yung mga LGU, may pag-asa yung mga bata,” Gatchalian said.
(If there are proper facilities, , proper intervention program, of the LGU will work, children have a chance).
The senator said the government only has to allot P2.6 billion to build 58 more Bahay Pag-asa centers nationwide.
He said the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council and the Department of the Interior and Local Government should urge the LGUs to set up their respective Bahay Pag-asa centers.
Gatchalian noted that current population of children in the Bahay Pag-asa in Valenzuela City is 60, 40 of them children in conflict with the law while the rest only seek refuge from their homes. / gsg
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