No to the Amendment of RA 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006); World Vision Calls for Child-appropriate Programs and Services
The issues on
, a gang composed of children that roam the streets of Makati and other areas thatattack vehicles stuck in traffic and other cases involving children were frequently reported on national televisionprompting some legislators to amend RA 9344 particularly on lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility(MACR) from 15 to 12 years old. Indeed, there are reported cases from which children are involved but beforewe think of how to make them pay for the offenses and crimes they may have committed, we must first rememberthat they are still children, vulnerable at that. We must first ask what prompted these children to do such act andwhat in turn can we do to help them redeem themselves.In a study conducted by World Vision Development Foundation (WVDF), April 2012, on the Functionality of theLocal Council for Protection of Children (LCPC)/Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC), it was
found out that “laws pertaining to children are not well understood. A case in point,
RA 9344 is interpretedwrongly because to some extent some parents (and children) use this law to their advantage.
As such raisingawareness on what the policy is all about is crucial.
WVDF stands firm not to amend RA 9344 but rather to give it time to be fully implemented. We are not in favor of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.
Scientific research shows that children below 15 lack sufficient judgment to establish criminal liability.WVDF believes that the juvenile justice system should be premised on the basis of rehabilitation rather thanretribution.
Juvenile justice systems should be in place and functional.
Children under the age of 18 should never be tried as adults and should always be dealt with within the juvenile justice system.
Children under the age of 18 should also not be placed within adult prisons.
Engage all duty bearers to educate parents, children and communities on RA 9344.As a child-focused organization, WVDF believes in the principle of restorative justice. If indeed a child hascommitted a crime or has made an offense, the child should be entered into child-appropriate facilities available,where they could be rehabilitated, reformed, and transformed to good citizen of our country.For children used by adults in crime syndicates, lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility is not thesolution because we have a law in place to deter it. Under Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code (criminal law), theuse of children in crime is considered as an Aggravating Circumstance. If an adult criminal shall use a child in thecommission of a crime, the penalty for adult criminal will be increased.WVDF recognizes the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law tobe treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth.