Child advocates vow to block attempts to amend Juvenile Justice Welfare Act

THE government of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III must not let our children in conflict with the law (CICL) feel that it is the end of the world for them and that they are non-productive sectors of our society’.

This has been the strong message of child welfare groups, Akap Bata Youth Advocates and Akap Bata Party-List as they hold their annual ‘Paskuhang Paslit’ with CICLs at the Haven for Children Rehabilitation Center in Muntinlupa City today.

The groups also said that it is the moral obligation of the government to educate and rehabilitate these young offenders properly in order for them to be progressive and useful citizens of the country in the future. Child advocates today hold fun-filled activities with the kids in rehab as they shed light and give hope to the children especially in time of the Yuletide season.

Akap Bata Youth Advocates and Akap Bata Party-List also slams move of the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate to amend the existing Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 and attempt of lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 years old to 12 years old and at the same time lowering the age of discernment for them. It can be recalled that the Lower House already railroaded the passage of House Bill 6052 last June, which further amended RA 9344.

‘We vow not to allow any more move of our lawmakers to push for any amendments of RA 9344. Our CICLs must be treated victims of various social ills, and not just like any ordinary criminals. For the longest time, Filipino children have long been suffering and victims of extreme poverty, hunger, homelessness among others,’ said Love Carlos, National Spokesperson of Akap Bata Party-List.

She also said that it is indeed inhumane and unjust for a child to be imprisoned and treated like hardened criminals.

This has been the issue before in campaigning the RA9344, wherein children were jailed together with adults, worse conditions in prison and the kind of justice system favouring those who are rich and in power.

They said that treating young law offenders as criminals will surely result to bigger problems and will invite further cases of violence against children.

Carlos added, ‘Instead of focusing on how to punish these children, our government must concentrate on how it can provide programs in giving-out the basic needs and services for our young people and their families. Statistics show that children in conflict with the law are often found in urbanized, congested and poverty-stricken communities.’

‘Resolving basic issues in children education, health and nutrition, shelter for children, protection programs for children will somehow help in paving the way for a more humane society,’ Carlos said.

‘Our lawmakers must re-think their moves and studies especially when rights and welfare of our children are at stake. They should conduct more research, study and local models on how we can really rehabilitate and reintegrate these youth offenders and CICLs in our society,’ Carlos said.

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