DSWD 2 chief thumbs down proposed lowering age of criminal responsibility

by Oliver Baccay and Angely Lubo

TUGUEGARAO CITY – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 2 Director Arnel B. Garcia has expressed opposition to the proposed lowering the age of criminal responsibility of children from 15 years old to nine, stressing that juveniles in conflict with the law are also victims of circumstances.

In an interview, Garcia stressed that children in conflict with the law are those who were neglected, abandoned, with family problems, products of poverty and of societal conflicts.

“Let us not forget that most of these children in conflict with the law are those who are neglected and lacked parental love and guidance; those who come from impoverished and dysfunctional families; whose parents are jobless or separated; whose environment is filled with air of violence or whose community is tolerant of offending crimes as their normal way of living, ”Director Garcia stated.

He added that majority of the said children are those who long for love, care and assistance from the community to survive and cope with the challenges of life.

“These are reality bites that conquer their motivation for survival. The most influential upon minors is the society that surrounds them so it would be best to subject and restrict the community, people, peers and individuals that induce minors to engage in crimes and not resort to lowering the age of criminal responsibility of children,” Garcia emphasized.

The Philippine government is a signatory to important international treaties and covenants to the recognition and protection of children’s rights. As such, it is obliged to align its laws with the principles and provisions of such agreements.

Director Garcia said further that the issues involving Children in Conflict with the Laws (CICLs) require a multi-sectoral approach and a communal action from the government, faith based organizations, non-government organizations, civil society organizations, academe, families, local government units and media as partners to help in the early intervention and rehabilitation of the CICLs.#