Anne Curtis continues to speak up against lowering the age of criminal responsibility

MANILA, Philippines – Anne Curtis has once again raised her voice against the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

The actress, who is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, took to Instagram on May 22 to speak out against the proposal, which is up for debate as Senate resumes the 17th Congress.

Anne said she stands with the Council for the Welfare of Children, child protection experts, civil society organizations, and other professional associations that oppose the proposal and instead pushes for the full implementation of the existing Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (Republic Act 9344).

"I stand with them for NOT lowering the criminal age of responsibility but instead supporting the full implementation of the current law of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act," she said in the caption of a photo of her wearing a shirt that says "Children Not Criminals."

Under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is set at 15 years old. This means that minors between age 15 to 18 who find themselves in conflict with the law may be detained in youth centers and undergo rehabilitation programs. Those below the minimum age are exempted from criminal liability and undergo intervention.

Anne stressed children in conflict with the law are still young and can still change.

"I understand that there are those who see differently but if you could only try and discern that they are STILL CHILDREN, are victims of their circumstance and are still young enough to change their ways," she said.

"Instead of being penalized, they should have access to proper rehabilitation – where they can be properly cared for to understand what they may have done wrong, learn to change their ways and be given a second chance at life," she said.

She also stressed that if the current law is fully implemented, it cannot fail.

"The proper implementation of the current Juvenile Justice Welfare Act has proven to have many success stories that [UNICEF Philippines] shared with me," she added. "It cannot fail IF IT IS FULLY IMPLEMENTED."

She ended her post by saying "I stand with UNICEF as they call on the Government to work with child rights defenders and strengthen the juvenile justice system for the sake of all Filipino children." She also added the hashtag "#ChildrenNotCriminals," and led followers to a link in her bio to a press release by UNICEF calling for the full implementation of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act.

In January, the House of Representatives greenlit the bill that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.

This is not the first time Anne urged the government to rethink the proposal.

In February, she along with fellow UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Daphne Oseña-Paez, said that if the current law is implemented, there is now need to lower the age of criminal liability.

Other celebrities who have spoken on the issue are Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, and Miss Intercontinental 2018 Karen Gallman. – Rappler.com