“Legislators seem to be missing the point. There is a deeper social context why our so-called ‘young offenders’ are being pushed to commit petty crimes and sometimes used by organized syndicate crimes.” – Arlene Brosas, spokesperon for Akap Bata
By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Children rights’ group Akap Bata slams on Saturday the amendment made by Congress on the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) that seeks to “lower the age of discernment of criminal liability” of minors.
The Bicameral Committee Report has approved on Wednesday that children from 12 to 15 years old, who commit serious crimes like murder and rape, will be confined in a government facility. The period of confinement will still be determined but is said to be not less than one year.
But Arlene Brosas, spokesperson for Akap Bata, said they are opposing the Congress’ action “because it will not serve for the best interest of our children.”
Arrested offenders who are below 15 years old, under the present law, are required to be immediately release to their parents or guardians. However, the amended JJWA will be implemented once it’s signed by President Benigno Aquino III.
“Legislators seem to be missing the point. There is a deeper social context why our so-called ‘young offenders’ are being pushed to commit petty crimes and sometimes used by organized syndicate crimes,” Brosas pointed out.
She said hunger and poverty “breed children in conflict of the law” thus lowering the age of criminal liability, as well as intervention, will not resolve criminal and civil offenses committed by children.
The group has instead urged for the laws and international policies on child protection to be “genuinely implemented and adhered to.”
More importantly, Brosas said, the socio-economic needs of children should be provided and that the problem on juvenile delinquency should be addressed “in a holistic and pro-child manner.”
Akap Bata maintained that children are not criminals, but victims.
It challenged legislators and all government agencies “to hunt and pin down the bigger targets” instead of punishing children who are “the easy targets and smaller fishes.” (John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com)Akap Bata, children's rights, davao, JJWA, Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, philippines, President Benigno Aquino III