‘A direct affront to the future of this nation’
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
The Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas, a federation of Protestant and non-Roman Catholic youth organizations, strongly opposes the proposed legislation that lowers the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to nine years old. House Bill No. 002, as proposed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, is a direct affront to the future of this nation. Passing this law means endangering the welfare of the generations to come, our nation’s future “pillars” and prime movers.
In a nation where almost 33 percent of its population are children (as of July 2016) who we consider belong with the most vulnerable of all sectors, lowering the criminal age of liability is outright abominable. This shows how our leaders have abandoned their responsibility over our children.
Children in conflict with the law must be dealt in the light of prevailing circumstances in our society. For example, majority of our children have limited access to needs vital for their growth and development. Deprived of education, food, good housing and safe communities, many of them are left highly vulnerable to antisocial activities. Lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine will in no way help address the increasing crime rate in our country. It only exposes the loopholes in our justice system, especially the law’s failure to put primacy on delivering the basic needs and promoting the welfare of the people.
This antipoor, antichildren proposed law puts our children further at risk and marginalizes them even more. Children should be provided proper healthcare, education, housing and a caring community.
Lowering the age of criminal responsibility will be detrimental to our children; keeping children in jail in much younger age has long-lasting harmful impacts on them—psychologically, and physically, and could leave a stigma that could stunt their overall development throughout their entire adulthood, instead of helping them grow,
realize their potentials, and participate in the task of nation-building.
The Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children, meaning, its government has an international obligation of protecting the rights of children and ensuring that they be treated with high respect and dignity.
As a nation, we must create a more just society catering to the most vulnerable—our children, because protecting our children means ensuring our future with hope.
We are the youth of today. We believe that the children are the future. As a caring Christian community, we see our little sisters and brothers as gifts of God, to be loved and taken care of. We are one in protecting the rights of our children, for we know, that protecting them is paving the way to becoming a better, stronger nation.
LISSA BELLE R. BROWN, general secretary, JIMARIE SNAP T. MABANTA, chair, Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.