Parañaque City- The Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) participated at the #ChildrenNotCriminals: A Forum against Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility held at St. Andrew’s School, Quirino Avenue, Paranaque City last Feb. 24.
The said forum was an activity of Child Rights Network (CRN) as part of the #ChildrenNotCriminals campaign against lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility. The participants were grade school students from different Catholic schools.
HLAF Program Officer, Atty. Kristoffer Claudio, was invited to give the civil society organization’s perspective about the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA).
At the forum, CRN showed excerpts from Bunso, a film on the conditions of incarcerated children in the Philippines prior to JJWA to the participants.
Representatives from child rights advocates were also invited to provide different perspectives to the forum.
Child Protection Specialist from UNICEF, Atty. Anjanette Saguisag, gave a discussion about the Philippines’ commitment to the UNCRC as the framework for justice for children and the result of the Universalia study.
“The government needs to help us in exercising our rights.” Atty. Saguisag emphasized during her talk about the proper compliance to the UNCRC.
Also, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Sciences University of the Philippines- Manila, Dr. Ronald Del Castillo, PsyD, MSc, MPH, tackled understanding the Child (At-risk and In-Conflict with the Law; include Brain Development and Adolescent Development Arguments).
“Children need an enabling environment to reach their highest potential.” Dr. Del Castillo said about Brain Development and Adolescent Development Arguments of a child.
After Atty. Saguisag and Dr. del Castillo’s talk, the floor was opened for the participants to ask questions. The following were some of the questions raised:
Q: What to do when a child commits multiple crimes?
A: Compassion. Look at what we can do to help the child.
Q: what can the government do to implement JJWA better?
A: Invest in programs that are community-based. Increase social workers and psychologists.
Q: What can young people do regarding this issue?
A: Educate fellow youth. Talk to your congressmen through social media.
Q: What should the government do?
A. Fully implement the law. Strengthen local councils for children. Invest in programs.
In the afternoon session of the forum, Atty. Claudio gave the civil society organization’s perspective about the implementation of JJWA.
In line with the campaign against lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility, HLAF aims to raise the community’s awareness on the restorative justice and the proper implementation of JJWA. With this, HLAF took the opportunity of #ChildreNotCriminals campaign to be a venue to conduct the caravan. HLAF used a booth as a medium with information education communication materials about HLAF programs and related topics about the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
Before starting the forum, HLAF interns disseminated a survey questionnaire to determine an initial assessment to the participants. Also, after the forum, there was an evaluation survey to measure the increase in the awareness of the participants about the advocacy.
At the booth, the participating students also joined a survey and signature campaign about the minimum age of criminal responsibility. They also received HLAF merchandise, IEC materials and booklets about HLAF advocacies, UNCRC and minimum age of criminal responsibility.
The forum then provided a venue for break-out sessions to the participants and conducted a symbolical presentation of students.
To formally close the forum, the President of the Diocese of Paranaque Catholic Association, Sr. Rutchene Cabugos, gave the closing remarks.
In the conclusion of the event, there was a photo op with the facilitators, organizers,faculty and participants.
*This photo is from CRN Facebook Account.