GUIDANCE AND COMPASSION NOT PRISON FOR OUR CHILDREN
Lowering the Age of Criminal Liability is CRIMINAL in Nature
(RA 7610 declared the State to provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms.)
We are overly dismayed that a plenary session is being held for one of the most outrageous law in the Philippine history. For lack of better ideas on how to curb criminality, our law makers are now going to legally process a bill that will label children as young as nine (9) year olds as criminals.
Their argument: children used by criminals go scot-free because of the special protection accorded to them. Supposedly, this is intended for the good of our nation.
We, a network of civil society organizations, rights groups, peace and faith-based institutions, call our lawmakers to wake up and see sense. For wanting something “good” for our nation, we seemingly became automatons, troubleshooters in worst sense that we’re only too ready to shoot even our own children.
What is good for our nation are children who are well cared for: those who can go to school, who have roofs over their heads, can eat healthy food, and who have adults who are capable of providing guidance whenever they are lost.
So we ask for what reasons should those elders in the congress would want to prosecute and kill our lost children? If children are lost is it not because we, the elders, have erred?
This bill in itself is a crime because it violates the spirit of laws protecting children including, for example Republic Act 7610, that declares the state shall provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms.
If this bill aims to deter the criminals, who are using children in their dirty work, we may only end up punishing the children but not the older accomplices.
What is needed is a solid social welfare plan for poor families prioritizing children’s education and meeting their basic needs. The more viable solution to prevent children from committing petty crimes is to get these families out of poverty.
To our elected leaders of the land, we believe that you have children, nephews and nieces, and younger siblings of your own
. Do we aim to be a nation who would line-up our children in need of parental care and guidance with hardened criminals? How will we be able to sleep at night knowing that these young ones, needing parental care and love are languishing in jail, facing a bleak future, threatened by abuse of violence, and worse, even death, because of our decision.
Shouldn’t we look for and return to the flock, even just one lost sheep in a herd, just like our Lord Jesus do? To aid these lost children to grow as law-abiding citizen, our nation’s hope, over choosing to throw them in jail for what their young minds cannot fully understand yet. We were all children once. We know the answer.