No to Lowering of Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility!

Petition Closed

No to Lowering of Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility!

This petition had 701 supporters
Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns started this petition to President of the Republic of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte and

The involvement of children in criminal and antisocial activities is truly an issue of grave concern that should and will involve all stakeholders in society. The Juvenile Justice and Welfare law enacted in 2006, and which was further amended in 2013, sets the legal and operational standards that the government and non-government actors should follow in response to children in conflict with the law and children-at-risk. It is a product of more than a decade of deliberations on evidence-based information and compliance with international laws and standards firmly grounded on the reality of a society like ours where majority of children are faced with destitution and lack of opportunities for survival and development.

We firmly stand on the premise that current societal realities are a major contributing factor to children’s involvement in criminal and antisocial acts. Proxy indicators of poverty which include unemployment and landlessness among peasant families, malnutrition and poor health conditions, disenfranchisement in education and inaccessibility to other basic social services create a complexity that jeopardizes the rights and welfare of children, placing them in conditions of extreme desperation and hopelessness.

Based on the children in conflict with the law (CICL) cases handled by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the profile of a child offender is that belonging to low-earning families of 6 members on the average, has stopped schooling and exposed to alcohol and drug use who were charged with property-related crimes like robbery, shoplifting and the like.

As a civilized society, we should place great value to children. Thus we should exhaust all means to ensure that their basic needs and rights are protected and their welfare, upheld. As the primary duty bearer, state authorities have a greater responsibility to fulfill this role and create an enabling environment for children to become responsible members of society.

We should therefore regard children in conflict with the law as victims of state neglect and abandonment. Their right to survival, to develop and be protected has been denied from them. They have been failed miserably by the society that is now branding them as criminals.

The current proposal to lower down the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR), manifested in House Bill 002 filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in the 17th Congress, creates an even stronger statement that the state is willing to completely abandon its responsibility to these children, making them outcasts left to tend for themselves and with no chance of redemption.

We are reiterating our call to stop any proposals to lower the age of criminal responsibility. Instead, efforts should be poured towards ensuring adequate and proper implementation of the law.

  1. A nationwide survey of BCPC’s should be conducted in order to assess the needs for their creation and/or functionalization. Aside from developing the capacities of Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children in terms of implementing diversion programs for CICL, there is also a need to strengthen their function as the primary line of defense in preventing children to get involved in destructive activities. BCPCs should design programs that will promote the holistic development of children and youth and encourage their meaningful participation in social affairs. Such programs may include the formation of children and youth organizations, leadership trainings and educational sessions that would foster in them a sense of responsibility to their communities.
  2. Establish more Bahay Pag-asa and support initiatives that provide for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with the law.
  3. Conduct widespread dissemination of the provisions of the JJWA and its implementing rules and regulations coupled with educational campaigns on children’s rights and child development targeting all stakeholders especially law enforcers and service providers, so as to enhance general understanding, awareness and knowledge of the JJWA.
  4. Undertake a regular comprehensive study of children under intervention programs to assess their condition as well as the rehabilitation programs designed for them. This will stand as basis for reforms and innovations to improve the whole juvenile justice system.

But after all things are said and done, the government should go beyond strengthening the implementation of the JJWA if it is serious in its campaign against criminality. Responsive programs and policies to address poverty, including job generation, genuine land reform and access to free basic social services such as health and education, should be top priority.

What you can do:

  • Get your family, friends and co-workers to sign this petition.
  • Get in touch with Salinlahi to get updates on the campaign. You may also organize formal and informal discussions on this issue in your place of work and/or communities to get our message across. You may coordinate with the Salinlahi secretariat for any request for a resource speaker. For more information, follow us on Twitter and Facebook | Email: salinlahialliancephils@gmail.com | Tel no. (+632) 263-7789.
  • Send letters of appeal to your respective district representatives urging them to oppose House Bill 002.

Petition Closed

This petition had 701 supporters

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