Purpose: This work aims to examine the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) in the context of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign in the Philippines. This article focuses on how Duterte’s war on drugs can be dissonant with the purpose of juvenile justice standards.
Approach: This work conducts an examination on the issue of age of criminal responsibility in the Philippines in a three-fold manner: (1) using Hanna Arednt’s theory to explain how violence is legitimised in the anti-drugs campaign then giving examples of how young people suffered from this; (2) analysing the legal standpoint towards young people under the war on drugs; and (3) using legal and psychological literature to argue that Duterte’s war on drugs can be dissonant with the purpose of juvenile justice standards.
Findings: Young people are framed as instrumental to the drug crisis in the country instead of being victims of social ills, thereby justifying the strict measures on MACR to respond to the national drugs problem. Drawing on the principles on Juvenile Justice practices in different parts of the world, it also discusses that using the war on drugs as justification to lower MACR has underlying ethical normative and pragmatic issues which can pose threats to young people’s rights especially when lowering MACR is understood as a cursory response to drug crisis.
Originality: Finally, this article seeks to encourage further discussions about the ways in which the norms and standards in setting age of criminal responsibility are to be interpreted in specific national contexts.
Keywords: Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility, Juvenile Justice, Duterte, Drug War, Young People, Youth