Press Statement
23 January 2019

Lowering Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: PLAYING WITH OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE

Since the House of Representatives seem to be hell-bent on criminalizing children as young as any Grade 3 kid, the Duterte administration has finally unmasked the beast in it preying on the lives of the young and innocent to cover up its incompetence and epic failure in conquering lords and syndicates of adult offenders. The proponents of this piece of legislation have let down and abandoned the State’s domestic and international obligations of protecting and upholding children’s rights as mandated by the 1987 Constitution and the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

While they are insisting on their twisted logic that this proposed policy is protective of children, they have contradicted their very own reasoning when they have also admitted that children are being used and exploited by bigtime adult offenders for the perfection of common crimes and to evade liability.

Unfortunately, instead of going after these unscrupulous syndicates and cottage industry of bigtime offenders, the proponents conveniently, opted to go after the children, victimizing them twice over for a deplorable situation they have been forced to swallow.

This monster bill introduces the concept of rehabilitation, distinct from intervention and diversion, which is also a cause for a 9 year-old to be committed in a Bahay Pag-Asa. However, the bill fails to define what rehabiltation shall constitute and how it shall be done as well as the circumstances that will merit a child’s commitment therein.

It must be underscored that when children’s rights and interests are involved, laws should never be vague and subject to different interpretations. Otherwise, we will be leaving to the infantile whims of interpreters of the law the liberty and future of these children.

Replete with vagueness, the monster bill proposes nothing good but creates dungeons of nightmares for the young and innocent. Sadly, these children are made to pay for the incompetence of those in power. This monstrosity has to end.

And it misses the point entirely. Why zero in on children and the young, subject them to alienating proceedings they would be clueless about, treat them as aberrations rather than victims, and practically impose compulsory deprivation of liberty, rather than understand where they are coming from?

Or even better, why not pour all the State’s might and resources to replace the moral fibers and rational neurons of those who, in one way or another, have neglected, abandoned, deprived, exploited, and abused the children as our future?#

Reference:

Atty. Kathy Panguban
NUPL Women & Children Committee
(0977) 733 6961

Atty. Josa Deinla
NUPL Spokesperson
(0917) 431 6396

National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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