I cannot seem to understand why there is “clamor” among policy makers to decrease MACR in the Philippines when the global trend is to increase it. I stand with the position of professional and civic groups opposing the proposed measure. First, we need to consider evidence that children below 15 or 12 years old may know what is right or wrong but most of the time fail to internalize the consequences of their actions. Rather than putting them behind bars, we should focus on addressing this problem. The government can establish institutions that can assist our children, their families and communities in educating them about responsible citizenship. Or maybe existing institutions can do a better job in bridging the gap. Second, the most common reasons for children being in conflict with the law can be traced back to poor education and poverty. Perhaps, alleviating these children and their families from poverty will not give the motivation to commit crimes. While this solution is far-fetched, the recognition of the root-cause of societal problems will prevent us from promoting backward policies such as that of lowering the country’s MACR.
Why are our policy makers keen on putting these children behind bars especially when the justice system is juvenile? Juvenile in the sense that it is still struggling to cope with the current number of children in conflict with the law. Therefore, it is unjust to subject these children to criminal trials and/or shelter them under dilapidated facilities under a system that clearly doesn’t put these children’s welfare on top of its priorities. Why are we putting much focus on CICL when they account for only 2% of registered crimes? Shouldn’t the focus shift on bigger crime groups intimidating children to do their dirty jobs? What’s happening, clearly, is like the current war on drugs. This government is scratching the surface, targeting the most vulnerable instead of capturing the mastermind.