Akbayan Party-list members protested this Tuesday, December 6 against a House bill seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the existing 15 years old to 9 years old. Once it becomes a law, it would amend Republic Act Number 9344, also known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, or the so-called Pangilinan Law.
“This bill misses the point — that poor kids are often used by syndicates for their illegal activities, and children who comes into conflict with the law should be rehabilitated, not incarcerated,” Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said in a statement. He himself is a father of two teenage girls. The group was also joined by some child rights advocates in their protest.
“This mindset is inhumane, and we can be better than this. We call on all citizens to exercise empathy, and draw the line at children. This bill, when taken together with the bill reviving the death penalty through hanging, lethal injection or firing squad are cruel, degrading mean-spirited measures that cheapen life and destroys our sense of community.” He added.
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According to Villarin, the House of Representative should “focus on strengthening the Juvenile Justice Act, which was authored by Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. He has two daughters with Megastar Sharon Cuneta – Simone Francesca ‘Frankie’ Emanuelle (16) and Mariel ‘Miel’ Daniella Sophia (12), and an adopted son, Miguel Samuel Mateo (7).
Likewise, the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) are also throwing their support against the proposed amendment of RA 9344, or House Bill 2, which was authored and filed by Davao Del Norte Rep. (and now House Speaker) Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro last July.
Based on their joint bill titled ‘Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility Act,’ criminals (particularly drug traffickers) are comfortably using minors as accomplices in their crimes, because the exiting law states that these young children are not criminally liable, and therefore can easily get away with it. The House started to tackle this bill last November 16.