Teachers groups oppose lower minimum age of criminal responsibility

January 23, 2019

TEACHERS’ groups also expressed strong opposition to lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to nine years old.

Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) chairperson Benjo Basas said children need guidance and protection not punishment and detention.

The children in conflict with the law are also victims of social injustice, they should be treated with outmost care and compassion, Basas said.

Basas explained that the proposal to legally tag the 9-year old as criminals is barbaric.

“This is inconsistent with the Congress’ move to pass the Positive Discipline Bill and totally opposed to the established Child Protection Policy of the Department of Education, both universally accepted principles,” he added.

Militant teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) earlier said labeled the MACR amendment a monstrous move.

ACT said the MACR only victimizes children instead of providing them with psychological and related assistance to keep them morally upright in their decision making.

“Hence, the paranoia of the government—more clearly manifested in the recently exposed intensified surveillance of the people, particularly of teachers and residences, as it suspects everyone to be prospective enemies of the state,” ACT said.        

Approved by the House Committee on Justice, the unnumbered bill seeks to lower the age of criminal liability from the present 15 to nine years old.

‘Heartless monsters’

Movers and supporters of the proposed legislation to lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine years old are “heartless monsters,” according to opposition Senator Leila de Lima.

“Children are not criminals. They’re victims too! Hindi dapat sila pinagdidiskitahan kundi yung mga big time druglords and syndicates!” De Lima said yesterday.

“Nasaan ang konsensya nila? Heartless monsters!” she exclaimed.

De Lima also noted there is no evidence  that linked lowering the age of criminal liability of children to the crime rate increase in the country.

“There is no study that lowering MACR (minimum age of criminal responsibility) will deter syndicates and adult offenders from preying on children and using them to commit crimes,” she said while insisting that the root cause of juvenile delinquency are poverty and exploitation by adult criminals.