“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) reiterates its vigorous opposition to the passage of the Bill aimed at lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility of children to age nine (9). The NCCP’s statement “On the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility of Children” last March 31, 2017 upholds our biblical mandate to protect the dignity and rights of children. They are gifts of God and valuable members of the human family and the society.
Children in conflict with the law reflect a society in deep crisis. The grim reality of joblessness, landlessness, lack of social services, high inflation rate among others have made this society more vulnerable, unsafe and violent for our children. These should be addressed as a way of protecting our children and upholding their rights. Children should be given utmost priority in terms of care and support. The proper intervention and opportunities are meant to help develop and maximize their full potential.
We urge the government to fully implement the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act” of 2006 as amended by Republic Act 10630, instead. A priority is to establish an intensive juvenile justice intervention program that ensures the best interest of children with sufficient funds to support the program.
It is our children, especially those in marginalized communities who suffer because of insufficient support, our inability to provide them with what they need, our insufficient love and care, and our failure to nurture them in a safe environment. We owe it to our children to make our society a safe haven. Let us neither subject them to violence and cruelty because of our shortcomings, nor punish them because of our inability to respond to their needs. We must go all the way, “Suffer the little children to came to me and forbid them not.” (Matthew 19:14) That is the charge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must obey.
January 18, 2019
JUSTICE RAOUL V. VICTORINO, Ret.
BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN
Ms. Minnie Anne M. Calub
Acting General Secretary
Mr. Reynaldo Natividad
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