By PhilRights Staff
Youth participants of the Juvenile Justice Volunteers Congress renewed their opposition to the proposed lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) from 15 years old to 12 years old.
“Hindi sa iyong nakaraan nakasalalay ang iyong kinabukasan.”
The 2017 edition of the Juvenile Justice Volunteers Congress held Nov. 24-26 at Sitio Lucia Garden and Hotel Resort in Sta. Maria, Bulacan gathered youth members of the Barangay Children and Youth Association (BCYA) from Malabon, Navotas, and Quezon City as well as members of various child rights organizations. This year’s theme, “Kami naman po! A Millenial’s Participation in Addressing Issues Concerning Juvenile Justice in Social Media Platform,” is meant to highlight the role of today’s youth in advocacy and participation through various social media platforms.
Organized by the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF), the three-day congress included a Color Your World Activity, an immersive experience for the participants that also served as a reminder that treating children as criminals deprives them of a colorful life and a bright future.
Melanie Ramos-Lllana of the Philippine Action for Youth Offenders and Nirva Anna dela Cruz of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News also gave talks on the role of the youth in social media campaigns and social media responsibility, respectively. Participants also took part in sessions on theater presentation, mobile photography and digital arts.
Marichris Arienda, president of the Children World Aid Program from Bicol, also graced the event as she presented the film “Rehas” in support of the campaign to strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. Nicole Arienda, youth representative of the Children World Aid Program reminded the participants, “We need to fight for our rights pero ‘wag din natin sanang kalimutan yung mga responsibility natin.”
Art and Advocacy
Youth delegates also came up with a performance that reveals their stand and advocacy about juvenile justice. Presentations were showcased in the structured socialization night. Youth participants from Brgy. Culiat, Quezon City also showcased their talents as they entertained everyone with a theater performance depicting the current issues faced by the youth today. As one of the participants stated, “Everyone is an artist and everything is art.”
Actor JM De Guzman, speaking through a taped video message, offered a message of support: “At alam ko na marami ring kabataan na kagaya ko na maaaring mas malalim pa nga o mas mahirap ang pinagdaanan o pinagdadaanan ngayon sa buhay nila. Maaaring dahil sa kapabayaan ng mga magulang, pang-aabuso, karahasan na naranasan nila na maaaring nag-udyok sa kanila na gumawa ng mga maling bagay tulad ng pag-dodroga, bisyo, paggawa ng krimen dahil sa hirap ng buhay. At siguro, oras na, oras na para boses naman ng mga kabataan, nyo, ang madinig at maunawaan.”
Since 2012, HLAF has been providing a venue for all the children and youth members organized by the barangays that the organization has trained in the annual Juvenile Justice Volunteers’ Congress to get together and share ideas with having in mind the right of children to participate in matters that affect them.
HLAF is a non-profit, non-government organization that advocates for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons deprived of liberty especially the children, the elderly and those who are sick. One of HLAF’s programs, the Center for Restorative Action Program, empowers the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) in different barangays to be able to implement the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA). HLAF also sees the need to conduct activities which involves children to prevent them from being juvenile delinquents and serve as role models not only to every child but to be responsible citizens of the nation as well.
Photos courtesy of HLAF