Akbayan Partylist lawmakers Senator Risa Hontiveros and Congressman Tom Villarin on Monday presented the Gawad Aksyon at Solusyon to Ailyn Martinez, a former officer of Barangay Payatas as a testament to the positive impact of rehabilitative shelters for children in conflict with the law (CICL). The awarding comes on the heels of the Senate debate on a bill to make 12 year old children criminally liable.

Martinez worked for 5 years in Barangay Payatas as a desk officer for Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) concerns where she has helped children access the services of private shelters in partnership with the local government. 

"Isang malaking karangalan ang makatanggap nito. Sana ay mas makilala pa ang papel ng barangay sa pangangalaga sa mga kabataan. Hindi natin kailangan ibaba ang edad ng mga nakukulong, kailangan itaas ang bilang ng mga barangay children's shelters at suporta sa mga workers kagaya ko," Ailyn Martinez said. (It's a huge honor to receive this award. I hope we will soon recognize the important role of barangays for our children's welfare. We don't have to lower the age of those we jail but increase the number of children's shelters and support to barangay workers.)

“Community leaders in Payatas have already figured out what will keep children from a life of crime. It’s not making 12 year old children criminally liable but ensuring that there are nurturing homes that will give them a second chance in life," Senator Risa Hontiveros said.

“Our government should learn from leaders like Ailyn. It’s simple. To save children from a life of crime, don’t put them behind bars and treat them as criminals. Put them in children’s shelters where they will get the needed guidance to become good citizens,” Hontiveros added.

“We need more quality shelters and social workers, not more children in conflict with the law. Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to either 12 or 9 effectively increases the number of children who will be held liable to the law,” said Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin.

“Government actions and solutions should be responsive, not punitive. At the current state of our criminal justice system and its facilities, children in conflict with law will still be better off with their families and communities, not the state,” he added.

The awarding is part of Akbayan Partylist’s Anniversary Family Fair to provide medical and legal assistance to families, campaign for children’s welfare, and reject moves to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 12 years old.

In the program, a family member of a reformed CICL gave a testimony of how the shelters in partnership with the barangay are effective programs to save children from criminality.

Advocates in the later part of the program printed their painted hands in a mural to signify opposition to the lowering of MACR.  ###