CLRDC Defends Children’s Rights in Congress

The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) remains steadfast in its position against the lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) as it defended the human rights of children deprived of liberty as well as the children at risks during a Committee Hearing by the Sub-Committee on Correctional Reforms, Committee of Justice at the House of Representatives on November 16, 2016.


CLRDC Executive Director Rowena Legaspi was invited to be one of the Resource Persons to present its position before the said Committee on why the MACR should not be lowered. Currently, there are six bills pending at the House of Representatives which all seek to lower the MACR, they are HB 02, 505, 935, 1609, 2009 and 3873. These bills argue, among others:

–          That there is a dramatic increase in the number of children being involved in criminal syndicates, and the latter continue to use those exempt from criminal liability to perpetuate their crime;
–          That in other countries like Europe, USA, the MACR is more lower;
–          That the authors want to teach the children to be responsible in their actions;
–          That if the above 15 and below 18 acted with discernment, they will be tried as adults
(HB 935)

In its position paper presented before the said Committee, CLRDC maintains that lowering the MACR is not the ultimate solution to address the aforesaid bills’ concerns. CLRDC said that “the violations of laws of some minors if indeed they are used by syndicates, are mainly connected to laxity in the social system. If the syndicates, parents or other Adults abuse minors to perpetuate their criminal actions, this can be prevented through improvement in the social welfare system, and the proper implementation of law against child abuse.” CLRDC further states in its position paper that “reducing the MACR in law would be completely contradictory to the main purpose of the child’s best interest. If the goal of the bills is to protect our children, then the call must be to punish severely those who use and take advantage of these minors and break their innocence. The failure of the system to go after the syndicates that use minors reflects weakness of law enforcement in implementing the law”.


CLRDC underscores that “Children in conflict with the law were many times victims of different circumstances before they landed in detentions, and at the detention centers they continue to be victims as they suffer continued deprivation of access to health, education and justice.” “If we put the nine years old above into detention center by passing these bills, then we are perpetuating the sufferings that these children already endured, the State is not helping, it is condemning the child to a life she or he never deserved by the faults of the adults around him or her. If we incarcerate them as early as 9 years old, who are the most vulnerable and defenseless, the State is more than guilty of stealing these children’s future.”

CLRDC recommended to the Committee the full execution of the juvenile justice law instead of lowering the MACR which violates the many constitutionally protected rights of children. CLRDC was joined by Salinlahi, PAYO and Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation (HLAF) in articulating to the Committee its opposition to the MACR bills.

The committee hearing on the MACR will be continued on November 21, 2016. A very reliable source said that the Committee targets the passage of the MACR bills this coming December, along with the death penalty bill. If the death penalty and the lowering of the MACR bills are passed into law, children above 9 years who committed heinous crime punishable by death, are not spared from this harsh punishment.


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CLRDC conducted orientation workshop on Anti-VAWC Law for Barangay Women’s and children’s Department (BWCD), Bagong Silang

On November 27, 2012, The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC), Inc. conducted an orientation workshop on Anti-Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Law for the members and officers of Barangay Women and Children Department (BCWD) of Barangay 176, Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, the biggest barangay in the whole Metro Manila.

The said activity was conducted upon the request of the office of Barangay Kagawad Ruth Fradejas, Head of the BCWD of Barangay 176, made to CLRDC through the latter’s Children’s Action Resource Education (CARE) Project at Bagong Silang.

The  participants were attended by fourty (40) personnel from BCWD, all of whom directly handle and investigate cases of VAWC in Bagangay 176.

Since 2010, throught its CARE project, CLRDC has been providing awareness-raising activities and legal education to the communities at barangay 176 on children’s rights and the laws, with the objective of helping the local government prevent or reduce cases of violence against women and children, particularly child sexual abuse. CARE project also provides direct legal intervention to some cases referred by the community.

In  2011, CLRDC has received an Awared of Recognition from the office of Hon. Apolinario Trinida, Barangay Captain of Barangay 176 “for CLRDC’s time, knowledge and support extended to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children in combatting violence against children through awareness-raising and capacity building activties.”

To better attain the objective of CARE project, CLRDC is also sharing its extended desk office with the office of the Barangay Human Rights Action Center (BHRAC) of Barangay 176.  CLRDC is a member of BHRAC.