THE lack of proper jail facilities provides more than enough fuel for critics to continue opposing the proposed lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR).
This, despite the fact that there are definitely more crimes being committed by youngsters, including minors, throughout the country, which is teeming with street children.
Several bills now pending consideration in the two-chamber Congress, specifically in the House of Representatives, call for bringing down MACR from the present 15 to nine years old.
Even the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), led by Sec. Judy Taguiwalo, a former street parliamentarian, is against the highly-controversial proposal.
Expressing her strong objection, Secretary Taguiwalo told the House sub-committee on correctional reforms that the proposed measure is “not cost effective.”
In a position paper sent to the panel, Taguiwalo said the government needs to build more rehabilitation centers and jail facilities not only in the metropolis but elsewhere.
Young offenders cannot be included in the regular cells, according to the lady Cabinet secretary.
It is also anti-poor as shown by the fact that a greater majority of children in conflict with law come from lower income families.
“Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility runs counter to available scientific knowledge about the cognitive, psychosocial and neurological development of children,” she added.
Thus, the government, through the Senate and the House of Representatives, would do well to study further the matter of lowering the MACR.
Without doubt, Taguiwalo raised valid points that cannot be just ignored by the authorities.