“I understand that there are those who see differently but if you could only try and discern that they are still children, are victims of their circumstance and are still young enough to change their ways.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — A Filipino actress has joined the clamor against the proposed lowering of the minimum age of criminal liability among children.
“I understand that there are those who see differently but if you could only try and discern that they are still children, are victims of their circumstance and are still young enough to change their ways,” said actress Anne Curtis in a Facebook post, coupled with a photo of her wearing a shirt that states: “children not criminals.”
The proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal liability was a controversial issue last year, making it a pertinent election issue during the campaign period. This has been assailed as yet another attempt of the government to abandon children who are in conflict with the law.
Given, however, that opposition senatorial candidates have failed to make it to the so-called “Magic 12,” the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal liability among children may be expected to regain traction among lawmakers.
Curtis, also the country’s UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, said it is her duty to raise awareness and lend her voice to support the call against the proposed bill.
Instead of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the actress called for the full implementation of the Republic Act No. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which provides that children below 15 years old are exempted from criminal liability but will be subjected to an intervention program, such as a child-caring institution under the Social and Welfare department, while those between 15 and 18 years old are to be sent to a youth center and go through rehabilitation programs.
She said, “The JJWA does not see children in conflict with the law as criminals. Rather, it regards them as victims of their circumstances. This law has given these children hope – to change, to become better, and to work for a brighter future.”