Child rights advocates commend House sub-committee for retaining the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 15

May 23, 2017

Children’s rights advocates from the Child Rights Network (CRN) commended the members of the House Sub-committee on Correctional Reforms for retaining the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) at 15 years old.

This was after the sub-committee approved the substitute bill to several bills seeking to amend the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006.

Instead of lowering the MACR to nine years old, as originally proposed by House Bill 2 and several other bills, the sub-committee opted to retain the MACR at 15 and introduce other measures to strengthen the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA).

“We thank the members of the sub-committee for choosing to listen to scientific evidence proving that rehabilitation is a much more effective and sound solution to the problem of children being involved in criminal activities. It is also worth noting that the substitute bill has interventions that extend to children in conflict with the law (CICL) below MACR, from nine to 14 years old. This addresses the problem more considerately, upholding and prioritizing children’s rights,” said Romeo Dongeto, executive director of Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), convenor of the Child Rights Network.

“We are happy that the discussion has shifted from lowering the MACR to the effective implementation of the JJWA—which has been the call of CRN and the PAYO [Philippine Action for Youth Offenders] at the onset. The substitute bill presented today is a big improvement from the initial bills proposed. There were some good provisions introduced and we appreciate that the sub-committee is open to further inputs to improve on the bill and to still clarify some provisions,” added Melanie Llana, lead of the CRN’s MACR advocacy team and president of PAYO.

“Advocates must remain vigilant in seeing this substitute bill and any further enhancement through the Committee on Justice and the plenary. We shall remain committed to opposing any and all moves to lower MACR, and supportive of efforts to strengthen the current law,” reminded Dongeto.

Earlier this year, the Child Rights Network and PAYO launched a nationwide campaign called #ChildrenNotCriminals to oppose the bills in the House of Representatives (HOR) that seek to amend the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act in order to lower MACR from 15 years old to nine. Filed by Speaker Alvarez and other allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, the move to lower MACR to nine years old was dropped after three months of various technical working group meetings, where advocates and government agencies presented their opposition to said move.