Children as young as 9 years old who come into conflict with the law should be held accountable for their actions, but not as criminal offenders.
Thus stressed House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano, even as she agreed that the current law setting the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) at 15 years old needs to be amended to keep children away from a life of crime and being used by criminal syndicates.
“There should be accountability for young children in conflict with law, but not criminal prosecution, especially when the child is at a tender age of 9,” she said, in a last-ditch appeal to her colleagues at the House to consider her compromise bill in plenary.
An advocate of the family and Filipino children, Cayetano sent a letter to express her position to the House Committee on Justice which has approved the substitute bill amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9934) to lower the MACR from 15 to 9 years old.
The Taguig City lawmaker said, “It would be unconscionable to hold a child criminally liable when it is clear that it is their environment, home or community that exposed them to violence and other anti-social behavior.”
“I share the frustration of the President and my colleagues at how minors known to be used by criminal syndicates continue to roam the streets with syndicates exploiting the gaps in our existing laws.”
“This is the reason why I pushed for the substitute bill that was approved last year by the sub-committee, where children in conflict with the law would be required to undergo comprehensive rehabilitation through a range of options that would bring them on the right path.”
“Our children deserve to lead a full life, one away from crimes and syndicates. They deserve to be reared in a family and a community that will support them and guide them to become responsible citizens,” she concluded. #
Photo: Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano at a recent Pinay In Action (PIA) self-defense clinic at the Marillac Center for Girls in Muntinlupa.