Gabriela Women's Party reiterated today the call to reject all proposals to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old even as the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) reported an alarming number of minor surrenderees in the Duterte administration's Oplan Tokhang.
From July 1 to August 28, the PNP-WCPC reported that 20,584 minors have surrendered to local police offices.
"We cannot underscore enough the need to protect our children and consider them victims and not criminals in the government's war against drugs and crime. The proposals to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old from 15 years old will not keep our children away from crime or reduce their vulnerability from being used by drug traffickers and syndicates," said Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas.
The Gabriela solon cited reports from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency from 2011 to June 2016 noting of the 889 rescued minors from anti-drug operations across the country 383 were noted as drug possessors; 343 as drug pushers. The youngest rescued minors was a six year old drug pusher and a seven year old drug runner.
"Clearly, branding 9 year olds as criminals and making them liable for violating laws in ways that are no different from adults and hardened criminals will only destroy their future. Worse, this will also not keep drug syndicates from using children below 9 years old in their transactions."
"The solution to eliminating children's increased involvement in drugs and crimes lies in the government's capability to ensure that they stay in schools and that they have parents and families with jobs and wages that make them capable of sending their children to school. Children will remain victims and may even be increasingly targeted in this war on drugs and crimes for as long as the problem is not addressed in a holistic approach," Brosas ended.