In response to House passing MACR bill:
Groups form “MACR Watch,” hold protest today at Senate
In response to the passing last night by the House of Representatives on third and final reading of the proposed bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years, student and youth groups are forming a “MACR Watch” and holding a protest today at the Senate.
The opposition to the lowering of the minimum wage of criminal responsibility continues to escalate with more groups holding protests. Today some two hundred youthful protesters from the student council of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, the student party PUP Speak, Pwersa Youth and Partido Manggagawa-Kabataan will march from the Film Center to the Senate complex to call on senators to reject the proposed bill that seeks to criminalize children aged 12 years old and above. The planned protest follows on the heels of a similar protest yesterday along Katipunan Ave. by scores of Ateneo students led by the student council.
The young protesters will carry a streamer with the call “Paaralan hindi kulungan para sa mga batang Pilipino! Not 9! Not 12! No to the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility!” The groups announce that they are forming a “MACR Watch” that will monitor the deliberations by Senate on the proposed bill.
The various youth groups are all part of the Partido Manggagawa (PM) partylist coalition. Dhel Pulanco, the groups’ spokesperson, declared that “The opposition to making children criminals, along with the bloody war on drugs by the Duterte administration, is part of the election platform of PM.” Pulanco is third nominee of PM which is among the 134 partylist organizations that the Comelec recently announced is accredited.
“We challenge the Senate to engage in evidence-based policy-making instead of impressionistic law-making. In last Friday’s hearing at the Senate, numerous experts spoke against the proposed bill based on tons of scientific research and case studies of children in conflict with the law. Yet committee chair Sen. Gordon abruptly ended the hearing and declared that he stands by his unsubstantiated opinion that children aged 12 years old should be arrested and imprisoned. This same modus operandi of unscientific legislative work animated the House when it passed the MACR bill,” Pulanco elaborated.
He added that “The present Juvenile Justice and Welfare Law has enough provisions to address the concerns of some about incidents of children in conflict with the law. It must be said that these incidents are decreasing according to the PNP. Address the root causes not the symptoms of the problem of children in conflict with the law. For example, the prevalence of child labor is a much bigger issue but it is not being addressed by the administration and Congress.”
The groups vowed that the action today will not be the end of the protests against the proposed bill. Pulanco averred that “Along with other student, youth, human rights and civil society organizations, we will campaign until the proposed bill is killed.”
January 29, 2019