Multi-sectoral network vs lowering of MACR calls for responsive policies to address poverty, child offending

As the House of Representatives Committee on Justice hold a closed-door executive session to discuss the legislative move of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility of children in conflict with the law, SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns led the launching of UNCHAIN Children (Unity of Child Rights Advocates Against Inhumane Treatment and Neglect of Children), a network composed of multi-stakeholders who are against the proposed legislation.
‘Different stakeholders are gathered today to register the analysis and stand that it is indeed the entrenched poverty in the country that gives way to children getting into conflict with the law,’ said Salinlahi spokesperson Kharlo Manano during the network launching in Quezon City earlier today.
‘We believe that the government should not regard juvenile offenders as criminals, they are victims of poverty and state neglect. The profile of CICL is enough to convince us that these poor children have been condemned miserably in a condition where they need to commit crimes in order to survive,’ Manano stressed, referring to DSWD data saying that most CICL belong to low-earning families of six members on the average, has stopped schooling and were charged with property-related crimes.
According to Manano, House Speaker Alvarez and the members of the House Committee on Justice should give weight on the clamor of the public opposing such proposal. “Jailing children, as young as 9 years old, will not address the problem of child offending. Instead, the government should prioritize crafting responsive programs and policies that will address poverty which should include job generation for poor families, genuine land reform for farmers and access to free basic social services such as health and education.”
The launching was attended by representatives of various child rights institutions, women’s advocates, youth organizations, urban poor sector, members of the academe, legislators and faith-based groups, who signified their unity and commitment to oppose the lowering of MACR by signing a manifesto.
Manano added that the objective of the UNCHAIN Children is to unify the call of different stakeholders in opposing the move to lower the MACR and strengthen their initiatives in pushing the government to address the problem of child offending. ‘We believe that the government is primarily responsible in ensuring the welfare of our children, especially those in the margins of our society,’ Manano emphasized.
Aside from holding awareness-raising efforts at the ground level, the network will become active in holding events opposing the proposed legislation including protest actions, lobbying with local government units as well as proposing and recommending programs and policies in order to promote children’s rights and welfare.
Before the network launch, Salinlahi representatives also participated in a protest action of different child rights groups held outside the Batasan Complex to signify their strong opposition against the railroading of the said anti-children and anti-poor legislation.###
#UNCHAINChildren #NOtoLoweringMACR #DefendOurChildren #ChildrenNotCriminals

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