By Chito Chavez
A militant teacher’s group has joined the bandwagon of sectors that has rejected and totally deplored the lowering of criminal liability from 15 years old to nine years old.
Insisting it as inappropriate, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed strong opposition to the approval of the house committee on justice of the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 9 years old.
Further labeling it as a monstrous move, ACT said the MACR only victimizes children instead of providing them with psychological and related assistance to keep them morally upright in their decision making moves.
The group scored the provision saying the “state has evidently lost its conscience and has become barbaric as it has now turned to one of the most vulnerable sector of our society’’.
ACT said the government’s supposed wage against criminality cannot be solved by the MACR saying that it is “no more than a false show of strength and will of an increasingly paranoid state.”
As the Duterte administration enters its third year in power, ACT said the weakness and rottenness of the state has become “more and more evident as exemplified by the worsening economic and political condition in the country’’.
“Hence, the paranoia of the government—more clearly manifested in the recently exposed intensified surveillance of the people, particularly of teachers and residences, as it suspects everyone to be prospective enemies of the state,’’ ACT said.
Instead of punishing the children whose discernment to proper decision making is still raw, ACT said the government has employed more fascist measures in a frail attempt to take hold of the situation by terrorizing and controlling the people, in the form of operation tambay, national ID system, ROTC, and now this—the treatment of children as young as 9 years old as criminals.
As teachers and education workers, ACT said it has taken the opportunity to “fulfill the vocation of molding and supporting young minds to become positive forces for social transformation and national development despite our meager pay and the dire state of the education system’’.
ACT national chairperson Joselyn Martinez said jailing children undermines these objectives as it is punitive instead of corrective. “It deprives instead of fulfill rights, and exemplifies cruelty instead of compassion,’’ Martinez said.
With the lowering of the criminal liability to nine years old, Martinez asserted this neither will “curb syndicates’ use of children on illegal activities, and may even endanger much younger children as syndicates may now target seven, eight year olds’’. She insisted the lowering of the MACR only holds the children responsible for the state’s failure to address and uphold their rights to a safe, nurturing and enabling environment for their growth and development.