Different barangays from Malabon City and Navotas City decided to take a stand against the lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) as they release position papers from their Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) members.
With the timely issue of the possible lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility or the age at which a person may be held criminally liable for the commission of an offense, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation’s partner barangays from Malabon City and Navotas City expressed their sentiments as they said that lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility is not the solution.
Having said this, HLAF’s partner barangays has written their position about why they oppose the lowering of MACR and quoted in their position papers are the following:
“Ang Brgy. Catmon ay hindi sumasang- ayon sa pag-amenda ng batas RA 9344 Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 na maibaba sa edad na 9 taong gulang ang mga batang mapaparusahan sa kadahilanang:
· Hindi pa sapat ang edad ng bata para malaman kung tama o mali ang kanilang ginagawa.
· Mas maraming bata ang masisira ang kinabukasan kung sila ay ibibilanggo dahil hindi sila makakapag-aral sa paaralan.”
(Brgy. Catmon, is opposing the amendment of the RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 to lower the age to nine years old due to the following reasons:
· The age, nine years old, is not old enough for a child to know whether his actions are right or wrong.
· There will be an increasing number of children whose future will be at risk if they will be held in jails because they were not able to study at school.)
“Kami, ang BCPC ng Brgy. Baritan ay hindi sang-ayon sa pagbaba ng edad ng criminal responsibility ng bata mula 15 taon sa 9 na taon gulang sa kadahilanan:
· Sa aming karanasan sa Barangay, kadalasan ang mga batang nasa edad na 9 na taon ay napapasama lamang at naiimpluwensya lamang ng mga batang mas may edad sa kanila;
· Kapag sila ay amin ng nakakausap ay makikita mo sa kanila ang kalambutan ng kanilang murang isip;
· Na wala pa kaming naging kaso na ganyang edad na siya mismo ang gumawa ng hindi maganda o ng krimen;
· Karaniwan sa edad na siyam ay siyang nagiging biktima ng mga batang mas may edad sa kanila (ex: pambubully)
Kung kaya’t sa aming paniniwala na ang mga batang nasa edad na siyam na taon ay hindi pa mulat sa kanilang murang isipan sa mga bagay na hindi naman nila ginusto. Maaaring kulang lamang sila ng atensyon at pagmamahal mula sa kanilang pamilya at komunidad na kaya pang hubugin tungo sa kabutihan na pwedeng ihalintulad sa murang halaman na nagsisimula sa binhi na kayang hubugin hanggang sa paglaki na dahil sa maayos na pag aalaga at gabay ng magulang ay magbubunga ng mabuti.”
(On the other hand, the BCPC of Brgy. Baritan opposes the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility of children from 15 years old to 9 years old due to the following reasons:
· Based from our experience in the barangay, children on the age of 9 years old are mostly misled and influenced by older peers around them.
· When we are interacting with them, you’ll see the tenderness of their young minds.
· We have no record in our barangay wherein a nine-year-old child did an unpleasant deed or a crime.
· Mostly, children in the age of 9 years old are the victims of the children older than them (ex: bullying)
With this, our stand is that children at the age of nine years old are not yet aware in their young minds of the things they do not prefer to do. Maybe, they feel a lack of attention and love from their family and community that the children can still be shaped into a fine member of the community. )
“Kami ay mula sa Brgy. Bagumbayan North Lunsod ng Navotas ay di sumasang ayon sa pag-amyenda ng batas R.A. 9344 o ng Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 na ibaba ang edada ng criminal liability mula sa labing limang taong gulang sa siyam na taong gulang sa kadahilanang:
· Naniniwala kaming hindi sapat ang kanilang kaalaman sa tama at mali na kanilang ginagawa.
· Lalo lang magiging mas masama sa darating na panahon kapag nakaranas nang makulong.
· Pananagutan ng mga magulang ang kanilang mga anak ang paulit-ulit na pagkasangkot ng kanilang mga anak sa matinding paggawa ng krimen.”
(We, members from Brgy. Bagumbayan North, Navotas City, are opposing the amendment of RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old based on the following reasons:
· We believe that they lack knowledge in acknowledging whether they are doing right or wrong.
· They will be in their worse state when they experienced being in jail.
· The parents will be held responsible when their child repeatedly involved themselves in serious offenses.)
Since 2011, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation-Center for Restorative Action has been seeking to empower the different stakeholders, especially the barangays, with knowledge and skills to be able to properly implement RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) of 2006 through the provision of training. HLAF, through these pieces of training, has consistently been dispelling the notion that children cannot be made accountable for the crimes that they commit. Instead, the law seeks to make children accountable in a process that is appropriate to them.
Through the training in different barangays, the BCPC members were able to correctly handle cases of children in conflict with the law and children-at-risk. Through this, they were able to realize amongst themselves that the JJWA is implementable. They also realized that the true purpose of the JJWA is to create a child-appropriate system to make children accountable and find and resolve the root cause as to why they commit an offense.