Members of Akbayan party-list together with child rights advocates today trooped to the House of Representatives to call on legislators to abandon plans to pass a proposed measure that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 9 years old.
"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," said Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, a father of two teenage girls, and is opposing the bill.
"Malupit sa bulilit ang panukalang batas na ito, at mahihirap ang siguradong tatamaan na naman dahil sila ang walang kakayahang kumuha ng abogado para ipagtanggol ang sarili."
"We need to pause and seriously reflect for a moment if we are willing to sacrifice the future of our children just to feel a sense of security, just to feel safe," added Villarin. "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," pleaded Villarin. "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."
"May pananagutan tayo sa ating bawat kapwa tao, hindi katanggap-tanggap ang kultura ng kamatayan, takot at kalupitan na isinusulong ng panukalang batas na ito," added the Mindanaoan legislator.
"We call on the House leadership to scrap the bill and instead focus on strengthening the Juvenile Justice Act which provides humane, preventive and rehabilitative ways to give hope to children who lose their way because someone else is exploiting them," he said. ###