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Mareng Winnie slams Congress over push to lower MACR: 13-year-olds can’t watch movies alone yet 12-year-olds should be criminals?

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Former socioeconomic planning secretary Winnie Monsod cannot understand why lawmakers are itching to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 12 years old from the current 15 years old.

In her January 26 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Monsod noted that the official definition of the labor force are Filipinos 15 years old and up who are either working or looking for work. Given this definition, she said it follows that children below the age of 15 are expected to be in school.

“Isn’t it ridiculous to forbid children below 13 from watching a movie, and yet consider them old enough to be responsible for criminal acts? Those children should be in school—at least until 15. That’s why we have free primary and secondary education,” Monsod, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, said.

realted story: Tito Sotto hits critics of lowering age of criminal liability: So OK lang mang-rape ang trese anyos?

The former socioeconomic planning secretary expressed her exasperation at Congress’ move to lower MACR when there are several loopholes in Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act that have yet to be addressed.

She noted the lack of “Bahay Pag-Asas,” or rehabilitation centers for children in conflict with the law, nationwide even though its establishment is mandated by RA 9344.

Citing data from the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council, Monsod said there are only either 48 Bahay Pag-Asas based on the council’s report or 63 according to its executive director. This was a far cry from the 114 that was expected to have been built since the amendment to RA 9344, RA 10630, was passed.

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Monsod warned that lowering the MACR will lead to overcapacity in Bahay Pag-Asas, which have been described by JJWC executive director Tricia Oro as being “worse than prisons.”

“[L]owering the minimum age to 12 would add an average of 71 people per center, to a system already bursting at the seams,” the professor said.
related story: Palace wants age of criminal liability back to 9 years old: Alam na nila ginagawa nila!

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