February 4, 2019

With two days left for the Senate to deliberate whether or not to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12, we need more voices to speak up against a measure that is anti-children.

Lawmakers insist that crime rates are part of their basis to lower the minimum age of responsibility despite numerous statements by Children’s Rights Networks, international non-government organizations and medical professionals that 9 or 12 is “too young.”

Why then should it be lowered when PNP data itself shows that the number of crimes committed by children aged 9 to 11 years old was lower by almost 500 from 2016 to 2018? Those committed by children 12-14 years old were lower by as much as 2,000 in the same time frame.

During the Senate hearing last January 25, the UNICEF stated that the problem with the law lies with the implementation, with UNICEF Representative Lotta Sylwander quoted as saying that the Juvenile Justice Welfare law “is a very solid law” and “there seems to be no accountability to implement it.”

As reaction to the proposed measure, several protest actions were made in the Senate and Congress grounds in the weeks preceding the deliberations, calling for lawmakers to reconsider their stand. Netizens even started using the hashtags #ChildrenNotCriminals, #TulongHindiKulong and #Not9Not12, changing their profile pictures to indicate that “jail is no place for a child.”

This is why the Otso Diretso candidates are here — to lend their voices and expertise to ensure that children are given the proper support, the law is properly implemented, and that the justice system is equipped to properly handle cases involving minors.

With a progressive track record, our Otso Diretso candidates Gary Alejano, Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, Romy Macalintal, Mar Roxas, and Erin Tañada will fight for our children. Otso Diretso is against the lowering of criminal responsibility — not 9, not 12.

Let us all together urge our lawmakers to vote for our children. We owe it to them to make sure that ours is a society that is able to give them chances to grow up to their fullest potential. Implement Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act now.