Lack of Facilities: Not Valid Argument Against Lowering of the Age of Criminal Responsibility.

This is about the current debate on lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility (“MACR”) in the Philippines.  Currently, the MACR is at 15 years.  There was a proposal to lower it to 9 but Congress recently amended this proposal to 12 years old.  I have recently explained the important parts of the proposed amendment in this article:


The Criminal Responsibility of Minors

I have also narrated and example why there is a need to lower the MACR:

The Tragic Story of Not-So-Innocent Children

When I posted the above-mentioned articles, there had been mixed reactions.  Some agreed while others didn’t.  One of the arguments of those who oppose the lowering of the MACR is this:

“We do not have enough facilities to house child lawbreakers.  Hence, we should not lower the age of criminal responsibility”.

I can say that this argument is totally flawed.  And this is best explained thru an example.

It is well-known hat we do not have enough facilities to detain and imprison adult criminals.  And sadly, this is a fact.  Our jailhouses are so small and so cramped.  They lack enough employees and staff members. We simply do not have enough room to house all of the murdered, kidnappers, thieves and other criminals.

I also agree that our criminal justice system is far from perfect.  It is true that murderers sometimes go free.  It is also true that some innocent people are being convicted of murder.

But if we use the logic of those opposed to the lowering of the MACR, then, we would have to say that:

“We do not have enough facilities to house murderers.  Hence, we should not make murder a crime anymore.”

Following their line of thinking, then, we should just let murdered go free.  Let people commit murder since we lack the facilities to imprison them.  This is what they are saying.  We have no facilities, so let children commit crimes. 

The flaw in this argument is crystal clear.

I have recently posted an article in my Facebook Page where I said that:

Isa sa mga palagi kong naririnig na argument against sa lowering ng age of criminal (social) responsibility at eto:

Wala naman daw tayong sapat na fascilities para i-detain ang mga batang criminal. So, wag na lang daw babaan ang minimum age of criminal responsibility.

Etong argument na ito ay ang tinatawag na “flawed logic”.

Gamitin nating halimbawa ang mga kulungan ng facilities para sa mga matatandang criminal. Alam naman natin na wala tayong sapat na facilities para ikulong ang mga criminal tulad ng mamamatay tao. Totoo na ang mga jail natin ay punong-puno, lumang-luma at kulang na kulang staff at empleyado. Sa dami ng mga mamamatay taong nakukulong araw araw, wala nang mapaglagyan ang iba. Totoo din na ang sistema sa pagpapakulong ng mga mamamatay tao ay hindi perfect. May mga mamamatay taong hindi nakukulong at may mga nakukulong na hindi naman mamamatay tao.

Ngayon, gamitin natin ang argument ng mga tutol sa lowering ng age of criminal responsibility.

Ayon sa argument nila, wala naman tayo fascilities para ikulong ang mga mamamatay tao. So, wag na lang natin gawin krimen ang pagpatay ng tao. Dahil wala tayong sapat na kulungan sa mga mamamatay tao, wag na lang natin silang hulihin. Pabayaan na lang natin sila na malayang naglilibot sa kalye. Gawin na lang nating legal ang pagpatay sa tao.

Ganyan ang argument nila. Since wala namang tayong facilities upang paglalagyan sa mga batang batang criminal ages 9-15, eh wag na lang natin ipasa ang batas lowering the age of criminal responsibility. Hayaan na lang nating malayang naglilibot sa kalye ang mga batang may criminal minds.

Obvious naman na hindi tama ang logic na yan. Hindi dapat maging hadlang ang sinasabing kulang na fascilities upang maipasa ang batas.

Photograph by Carlo Ybanez Photography.

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