In the Philippines, the care and provision of services for children in conflict with the law and children at risk turned into a national debate in recent years when the Government proposed to lower the criminal age of responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old in order to mitigate the use of children in drug-related crimes.
The Government’s stand on this issue was met with strong opposition by many children's rights and human rights groups, lawmakers, health professionals, religious groups and academics.
The proposal from these civic groups was to focus on penalizing the adult criminals and syndicates who abuse and exploit children to do their criminal acts and fully carry out the Juvenile Justice Law that will make sure the provision of proper services and programs for children in conflict with the law and children at risk through community-led and family focused interventions.
On October 24, 2018, the Municipal Council of Balamban town in Cebu, passed an ordinance in response to the increasing incidence of crimes involving children in conflict with the law and children at risk in this municipality.
This ordinance was one of the main outputs from the Down to Zero Project that aims to empower children at risk and victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in targeted communities and by ensuring protective environments for them.
In July 2019, efforts were increased to implement the ordinance by encouraging all Barangays (districts) to adapt the provisions to improve their respective programs and services for children in conflict with the law.
As of September 2019, five out of twenty-eight Barangays in had adapted the ordinance.
It is hoped that through the proper implementation of this ordinance at the Barangay level, children’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social being will be given utmost importance and protection.