A social group said Saturday that the administration should solve first the problem of poverty before going on drastic measures to curb criminality, this in the midst of an ongoing deliberation on the proposed death penalty bill which includes amendments that could indict children as young as nine years old.
“The Duterte administration’s efforts to eliminate criminality such as through the drug-related EJKs, the impending revival of the death penalty, and moves to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) has brought nothing but great peril especially for poor Filipino children,” said Salinlahi secretary general Kharlo Felipe Manano during a solidarity activity organized by the Unity of Child Rights Advocates Against Inhumane Treatment and Neglect of Children (UNCHAIN Children).
Salinlahi cited that since Duterte’s drug war came into force last year, not less than 25 children have been killed while thousands more have been orphaned. In contrast, Manano added that “efforts to combat criminality should be towards the protection of children.”
Salinlahi has been at the forefront of campaigning against efforts of lawmakers to lower the MACR. “Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility is an affront to children’s rights,” Manano emphasized, noting that proponents of the bill are playing blind to the root cause of why Filipino children and youth are forced into anti-social and criminal activities.
“As long as majority of Filipino families are mired in poverty due to lack of decent jobs, low wages and landlessness, acts of criminality, whether by adults or children will continue to proliferate,” said Manano. He further explained that the occurrence of Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) is primarily caused by the abject poverty suffered by Filipino families.
Salinlahi pointed out that instead of victimizing poor children and placing them in jails, the Duterte government should instead address socio-economic issues as a primary course of action to end criminality in the country. Furthermore, Salinlahi urged the Duterte administration to continue the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) especially after the successful round of talks in Rome wherein the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) were discussed.
“Ending criminality entails ending the long-running poverty suffered by millions of Filipinos. Ending criminality should not mean ending the lives of children and their families,” concluded Manano.
Salinlahi is set to take part on the International Women’s Day protest on March 8, which they also marked as a National Day of Protest Against Lowering MACR and drug-related killings of children, to escalate and unite their calls with thousands of women and rights advocates‘ demand to Pres. Duterte to follow through with his commitments for jobs, land, justice and peace.
from Salinlahi AlliancePhils
posted and edited by Peter Paul Duran