Bill lowering criminal liability age opposed
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) has expressed strong opposition against the passage of a bill aimed at lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old.
“Children in conflict with the law must be seen not in isolation with the context from which they come from. Most of our children are into the deep of poverty, pushing them to do things that are detrimental to themselves, to their families, their communities and the society,” the NCCP said in a statement.
Instead of passing the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the NCCP said it joins other child rights advocates in calling the government to fully implement Republic Act No. 9344 or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006” as amended by RA 10630, also known as “An Act Establishing a Comprehensive Juvenile and Justice Welfare Council under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for other Purposes.”
It said the government must dig deep into the roots to determine why children were in conflict with the law “rather than pursue a punitive measure that will only exacerbate the already poor conditions of children.”
“If there is something that is of urgent concern, it is the provision of a comprehensive program that is based on the real needs of children. Unless children are provided with food on the table, secure and reliable jobs and decent pay for their parents, shelter and access to education and health services, the number of children in conflict with the law will continue to rise,” it said.
The NCCP cited studies which established that the stigma attached to a child labeled “deviant” or “delinquent” or “pre-delinquent” often contributes to the development of a consistent pattern of undesirable behavior by young people that compromise public safety.
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