Salinlahi congratulated the organizations and advocates that have been actively taking part in the campaign against the measure.
Children’s rights advocates express relief over non-passage of MACR
Rhodina Villanueva, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Children’s rights advocates were relieved when the 17th Congress’ session adjourned without passing a bill that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to 12 years old.

Salinlahi congratulated the organizations and advocates that have been actively taking part in the campaign against the measure.

“Such triumph, although maybe temporary, considering the current political landscape, is undeniably a leap forward in our collective struggle in protecting and defending the rights and welfare of Filipino children and their marginalized families,” the group said.

“It is noteworthy to underscore the concerted efforts of the broad opposition that foiled the attempt to legislate this anti-children and anti-poor measure despite the fact that such measure is included among the 12 priority legislative agenda of President Duterte,” it said.

The Child Rights Network (CRN) also expressed a sigh of relief as the 17th Congress adjourned without passing the bill that seeks to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA).

“We thank the Senate for exercising prudence in considering Senate Bill 2198 and its various implications on the lives of Filipino children,” it said.

The House passed a counterpart bill in January.

Salinlahi, however, said the fight for children’s rights and welfare is far from over.

“We are certain that there will be another attempt in the 18th congress to lower the MACR, especially with the overwhelming victory of Duterte’s allies in Congress,” it said. 

Salinlahi and other child rights groups in the Philippines emphasized that entrenched poverty in the country is one of the push factors why thousands of children resort to committing crimes for survival.

They said the government should perceive children in conflict with the law as victims of circumstances and therefore should be treated in a restorative way.

The groups likewise stressed there were already scientific studies and researches showing that the developmental immaturity of children mitigates their criminal culpability, and that the move to lower the minimum age of criminal liability is tantamount to abandoning our international commitment on children’s rights.

The groups also highlighted the urgency of fully implementing the JJWA before any amendments to the law.

“We would like to believe that the Senate has decided to further study the amendments, especially the proposal to lower the MACR,” the CRN said.

It thanked other organizations, the legislators, academe and students who expressed support for a campaign for the full implementation of the JJWA instead of lowering the MACR.

It said the JJWA already contains all the necessary components to prevent juvenile delinquency, address children who commit light and serious offenses and provide intervention and rehabilitation for children in conflict with the law.

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