Youth voices highlighted at #KalingaHindiKulungan Culminating Event
Arman Granado was 10 years old when his mother left him to the care of his uncle in exchange for gambling money. He later found work as a household help for an employer who refused to pay him his full salary. At a young age, he felt pressure to steal a Nokia phone so his family could have something to eat. When he was later caught by police, they insisted he stole even more than just the phone.
“Ano po ‘ba? Admit nalang ito?” probed the police to Arman’s mother. What now, shall we just receive him?
Perhaps of defeat or mere ignorance, his mother replies, “Sige nalang po. Ikulong n’yo na po.” Fine. Jail him. While his uncle cried, Arman was numb at this point and was settled in just following what the “adults” decided on.
With the Philippine Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) in place, Arman’s child rights were protected. He cannot be convicted like a criminal and was instead admitted to a youth rehabilitation center in Sorsogon, Philippines.
For a number of months, Arman underwent programs on skill enhancement from the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Cultural and psychosocial as well as spiritual programs also became part of Arman’s day-to-day activities.
JJWA adopts a restorative approach to justice. Instead of punishing children, it prepares children-in-conflict-with-the-law (CICL) to reintegrate harmoniously with society.
Years later, on 29 November 2016 at the Kalinga Hindi Kulungan Bicol Youth Meet in Legazpi City, Arman who is now an adult sat with senior representatives from the Social Welfare Department, the local government, and the justice sector. He shared his life story in front of hundreds of Bicolano youth gathered to talk about House Bill 02, a proposal in Congress to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR).
Arman Granado, a former child in conflict with the law, speaks to Bikolano youth at #KalingaHindiKulungan Bicol Youth Meet on November 2016 in Legazpi City
“’Yong cell phone na ‘yon mga tig-500 lang. Pero sige nalang, binenta ko pa rin!” Arman quipped, inspiring laughter from the crowd. That cell phone wasn’t even expensive. It was worth about 10 US dollars but I sold it anyway!
Arman realizes now he never got the ideal adult support a child should have had when he was younger. But he has learned to forgive his mother. “Malaking pasasalamat ko nalang talaga sa mga programa ng DSWD,” he said. I’m just really thankful for programs of the Department of the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). He says he never would have been able to get on the right track without such support.
Now a child rights advocate, Arman is strongly against lowering MACR and supports the call for the full implementation of the current Juvenile Justice Law. Assistant Regional Director Victoria Tagum of DSWD Region 5, Social Welfare Officer Susan Polo from the local government of Bulan,Sorsogon, and Dave Abogado of Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN) – Bikol also spoke in support of the call not to lower MACR during the said event.
Speakers from DSWD, LGU Bulan in Sorsogon, and Saligan Bikol answer tough questions from Bikolano children during the #KalingaHindiKulungan Bicol Youth Meet last November 2016 at Legazpi City.
The Bicol Network Children (BNC) in partnership with the Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (RJJWC) organized the ‘Kalinga Hindi Kulungan: Bicol Youth Meet.’ More than 300 people showed up not only to participate in the dialogue but also as a ‘show of strength’ in an effort to sway congress against House Bill 02. BNC’s Kalinga Hindi Kulungan campaign have been received warmly on and offline by its partners, stakeholders, and beneficiaries in Bicol. Their signature campaign is in support of national organizations, the Philippine Action for Youth Offenders (PAYO) and the Child Rights Network.
BNC hopes that with voices like Arman’s and hundreds of others from Bicol and across the country, Congress will scrap House Bill 02 and instead fully implement the current child protection law, JJWA, alongside the administration’s anti-crime efforts.#
Hundreds of children and adults show up at the #KalingaHindiKulungan Bicol Youth Meet last November 2016 at Embarcadero de Legazpi to oppose House Bill 02 or lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR).
Bicol Network for Children launches #KalingaHindiKulungan campaign
14 November 2016–The Bicol Network for Children launches the “Kalinga Hindi Kulungan” campaign today to express its opposition against the current proposal to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) filed as House Bill 02 (HB 02) in the 17th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines.
The Bicol Network for Children is vehemently opposing this bill primarily because it is against the rights of a child. BNC strongly supports the call, “No To Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR)” because lowering of MACR:
- Will not prevent children from committing crimes. Adult criminals are already in violation of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262) as they presently use and abuse children in illegal activities, regardless of the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
- Will not lower the crime rate. According to the Philippine National Police (2015), crimes involving children in conflict with the law (CICL) or children at risk (CAR) is lower than 2%.
- Is against the rights of the child as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
- Is against the Philippine Government’s obligations to the UNCRC, which it ratified. The UN commended the Philippines for passing the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Law (RA 9344) in 2006 and encourages higher MACR.
- Is costly and burdensome for the government. Government units and agencies cannot accommodate the present number of children at risk and in conflict with the law. There is currently low compliance in putting up rehabilitation centers and facilities required by law.
- Ignores scientific proof on children’s brain development. Several studies prove that detention is harmful to children and that early offenses are ultimately due to poverty, childhood adversity, or abuse.
- Is unconstitutional. The Republic of the Philippines constitution states that children shall be protected against “all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development.”
As part of its united advocacy for child rights, BNC calls on the public to join in the campaign against lowering MACR by adopting the #KalingaHindiKulungan graphics in their social media profile and cover photos.
Aside from increasing supporters to an online petition, member organizations of BNC will also be doing signature campaigns in all their individual National Children’s Month celebrations and activities. They will send the signed position paper to congress in hopes of stopping HB 02.
BNC is the largest alliance of child-centered non-government and civil society organizations operating in Bicol Region. It is currently composed of sixteen (16) organizations that collaborate on specific common goals.#
House Bill 02 of the 17th Congress of the Philippines
BNC Position Paper on Lowering MACR (English)
BNC Position Paper on Lowering MACR (Bikol)
Quick Facts on MACR from JJCICSI, Ateneo De Manila University
Show your support! Get #KalingaHindiKulungan graphics.
Let Lawmakers Know: No To Lowering MACR
Best Practices on Juvenile Justice
Naga City: Quality Education for Child-Friendliness
Bacolod City: Becoming A Child Labor-Free City
Davao City: Responding to Children’s Needs