Two sides of lowering criminal age from 15 to 12

NEWS NOTES

There  are basically two sides in the issue of lowering the criminal age in the Philippines from 15 to 12 years old.

At first glance, it looks like cruelty and an act of violence against children.  But a reality check will note that  government is doing justice to wayward children of  reckless parents who precisely because of their reckless  disregard of their responsibility as parents, have led such children to criminality.

SO: WHO IS AT FAULT? The children, or the parents?  That makes the problem more complex because we believe,  both are at fault:

First, the parents for their reckless disregard, and  for leading a bad example and exposing their children to the criminal world unattended.

Second, the child because in their incapacity to act with matured discernment has  (without due guidance) fallen into the hands of criminal influence.

SOLUTION:

Will you as government leave the child to grow unchecked and un-rehabilitated just because they are incapable of wise discernment? And still too young to be under the cluthes of strict laws?   Will you throw them back to the den of lions instead of helping them grow a decent life in a rehabilitation center?  Which is the better solution?

THE CHRONICLE is giving here the two sides for your to decide whether as parents , brothers, relatives of these poor twelve year olds who are the present subject of controversy:

GOVERNMENT SIDE: The proposed law:

At least two bills aiming to lower the age of criminal liability for children are also pending at the Senate.

What is the House bill pushing for?

  • Children aged 12 to 15, who committed serious crimes, would be brought for rehabilitation to government-funded Bahay Pag-asa centers……
  • THE HOUSE VERISON calls for the “mandatory confinement” of kids from age 12-15 who have been charged with serious crimes such as murder, taking or selling illegal drugs, parricide, infanticide, serious illegal detention, carnapping, etc.
  • Supervision of these centers will be transferred from local government units to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
  • Parents of the child would undergo a similar rehabilitation program.
  • If the child reaches the age of 18 and does not reform, he will be sent to agricultural camps or training centers. He will stay there up to age 25, when he is set free.
  • Records of children caught in conflict with the law will be kept confidential.
  • The adult who exploited the child faces from 12 to 40 years in prison.

AND WHO ARE OPPOSING?

UNICEF  says approving it is an act of violence against children. PSYCHOLOGISTS    point out that children and teenagers precisely lack the full capacity to make reasoned decisions, control their impulses, and anticipate consequences of their actions.

CHILD RIGHTS ADVOCATES  say it’s a flawed approach in addressing crime, since this won’t stop syndicates from exploiting   children..

YOU CITIZENS OUT THERE:  do you agree that 12-year-olds need to be rehabilitated  and held in a government-run center – away from the care of families and loved ones?   But Is it not precisely the absence of lack of parental care that is causing all these?

The COMPLEX problem of crime and childhood is so COMPLICATED  that lowering the age of criminally liable children from  15 to 12 years old,  simply won’t AUTOMATICALLY CUT  IT CLEAN.

MOREOVER, this attempt to lower the age of criminality in the Philippines  is also made in an environment that proliferates extrajudicial killings,   a slow and   some say   corrupt judiciary; a violent war on drugs; a bursting population in the slums; and a bureaucracy that neither has enough nor  sufficient  skills,  nor enough resources to treat children and even their equally wayward parents,  with care and commitment.

We conclude this piece with a sad note that:  While the heart is willing, while the proposed law has good intentions,  the present  environment,  the body, the facilities, the skills, and the sustainability are simply quite  inadequate  for its realization.