LOOK: Child rights groups stage protest at Senate to oppose lowering MACR
MANILA, Philippines — Different child rights groups have staged a protest outside the Senate complex on Monday to oppose the proposed law that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) for minors.
Groups such as the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend), the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of the Manila Priory and the Academic Community of St. Scholastica’s College and other organizations flocked to the gates of the Senate complex as they urged lawmakers to halt the lowering of the MACR.
“Nananawagan sa ating mga senador na wag ibaba ang minimum age of criminal responsibility bagkus gampanan yung kanyang congressional oversight function upang makita, comprehensively i-evaluate ang implementasyon ng [Republic Act] 9344 or ‘yung Juvenile Justice Law para ma-determine natin, ano nga ba yung mga gaps dun sa implementasyon ng batas,” Eule Rico Bonganay, Secretary General of Salinlahi, told INQUIRER.net
“Nakikita natin sa bahagi ng mga child rights advocate hindi solusyon yung pagpapababa sa minimum age of criminal responsibility dun sa sinasabi na mataas na involvement ng mga bata sa criminality,” she added.
Individuals from different child rights advocate groups held signages which bearing the messages: “#DefendOurChildren,” “Children not Criminals,” and “Wag Agawin ang Kinabukasan ng mga Bata.”
The House of Representatives has approved House Bill 8858 that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility of minor from 15 years old to 12 years old.
Meanwhile, the Senate is currently tackling its version of the said measure.
Bonganay said that child rights groups rejected the argument of those in favor of a lower MACR that the children criminality rate in the country was rising as she cited police data which showed that only two percent of crimes were committed by youth offenders while the rest are perpetrated by adults.
“Kung ito ang tututukan ng gobyerno napakaminimal ng impact, dahil kung titignan din natin, hindi solusyon yung pagpapababa kasi kung nasasangkot man yung mga bata, which is a very grave concern para yun sa atin, na may mga bata na nasasangkot sa kriminalidad pero titignan natin yung mismong context, bakit siya nasasangkot,” she added.
Meanwhile, other groups also took a hit at the proposed law that would lower the MACR saying that it is “typical of government’s quick-fix, trigger-happy, corruption bred policies that are solely focused on terrorizing the population in the guise of addressing crime.”
“Instead of enacting national protective and rehabilitation mechanisms for poor minors affected by the multiple impact of deepening poverty, organized crime and extrajudicial killings, the government wants to punish them for social maladies,” the PAHRA and iDefend said in a joint statement.
It was the move to lower the MACR has prompted criticisms and widespread condemnation from public officials and child rights groups.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.