FOLLOWING debates on lowering the age of criminal liability, the Department of Social Welfare Development Office (DSWD)- Cordillera is opposing the move by Congress.
“May mga pagkilos ang mga mambabatas na ibaba ang minimum age of criminal responsibility. Sa bahagi ng DSWD, ito ay mariin naming tinututulan sapagkat naniniwala kami na ang hustisya na magsusulong para sa kinabukasan ng mga kabataan ay hindi ang hustisyang magdadala sa kanila sa kulungan, naniniwala tayo sa restorative justice,” said DSWD-CAR planning officer Rogerson Fernandez.
Fernandez emphasized the future of Children in Conflict in the Law (CICL) is a collective action of the agency and the community.
The bill aimed to lower the minimum age of criminal liability of a child offender from 15 years of age to nine years of age was introduced by Representatives Irwin Tieng, Mariano Velarde and Jose Atienza Jr.
Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Youth (RRCY) social welfare officer Johnny Bumakil also expressed his stand during the celebration of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Consciousness (JJWC) week with the theme 'Mapagkalingang Hustisiya, Ugaliin at Pagtibayin.'
RRYC is catering to CICL whose cases have been suspended in the absence of facility with that of the Bahay ng Pag-asa.
“If their being in conflict with the law is caused by family circumstances as well as community circumstances why should we allow our children to suffer the failure of their parents and our failure as member of the community to protect them?” said Bumakil.
Instead, Bumakil said what should be done is to strengthen the parenting effectiveness which is more helpful than bringing youth offenders to justice system.
“At least legislate a law or pass a bill that will strengthen mandatory parenting,” added Bumakil saying the lack of a juvenile facility remains an issue. “Saan na iyong mga facility natin? Wala. And so the court is, walang option, ang recourse nila is to commit them in jail. Because we also to have protect our society from these children on the possibility that they will recommit. So ang ginagawa ng court dinadala nila sa jail but that is not supposed to be.”
Ideally, CICLs should be brought to the justice system geared towards rehabilitating.
“Unfortunately there are circumstances that our CICL when they avail diversion program of the community, they fail and that is something we should consider because there are family concerns within the community so they have be temporarily place in a rehabiliation,” added Bumakil. “Kinuha namin sila because we fear they will be detained in Jail. That happened and it is happening.”
Sablan Mayor Arthur Baldo also expressed his sentiments against the lowering of age of criminality in the country.
“Sa ating mga Pilipino, parang traditional na very protective tayo sa ating mga anak, mahirap talagang gawin lalo na po at tayo ay isang Catholic country. Hindi po ako sang-ayon sa pagbaba ng criminal responsibility age,” added Baldo.
Baldo said they are in close contact with DSWD in the hopes of giving second chance to each and every youth offenders.
Since 2007, Sablan and DSWD -CAR has been in agreement to house the RRCY in the municipality.