‘What kind of society gives harsh punishment to innocent kids?’
Senators belonging to the majority bloc have expressed their opposition on a bill lowering the minimum age of juvenile offenders from 15 years old to nine.
“Lalo na ngayon na itinutulak nila ang death penalty, matitiis ba natin makitang patawan ng parehong parusa ang isang 9 na anyos na bata katulad ng ipapataw sa mga nakakatanda? Kung bitay o habang buhay na pagkakakulong maatim ba natin ‘yan?” Senator Grace Poe said in a text message on Tuesday.
(Now that they are pushing for the reimposition of the death penalty, can we tolerate seeing nine-year-old kids getting the same punishment as adult offenders? Can we stomach seeing these minors get the death penalty or a life sentence?)
The administration is pushing for the passage of the death penalty bill, which was already approved at the House of Representatives. The same measure is still pending at the committee level in the Senate.
“Anong klaseng lipunan ang ililikha natin kung walang awa nating paparusahan ang isang batang musmos na hindi pa buo ang pagkakaintindi ng sitwasyon?” Poe further said.
(What society will we create if we heartlessly punish an innocent kid who does not understand the situation fully?)
It is not true that children nowadays, she said, are more mature because of the advent of technology.
“Kahit ginagaya ng bata ang ginagawa ng nakakatanda, pinapatunayan lang nito na dapat ang tutok ay ang sa pag-alaga, ehemplo at gabay sa kanila…. Mas dapat patawan ng parusa ang mga magulang kung napatunayan na sila ay pabaya,” said Poe, who has a 12-year-old daughter.
(As kids imitate the acts of adults, this only proves that they need more attention, example, and guidance. Their parents should be the ones punished should it be proven that they were neglectful.)
Instead of punishing the children, the senator said, the law enforcement should go after the syndicates who are using the innocent to commit crimes.
“Sila ang dapat parusahan ng mabigat (They should be the ones accorded with harsher punishments),” Poe added.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri also vowed to vote against the lowering of minimum age to nine but would agree to a “compromise” age of 12 to 13 years old.
“Pero kung itutulak ng admin ito ay hindi ako papayag sa 9 years old. My daughter is 9 at wala pang pag-iisip ‘yang mga edad na ‘yan. Kawawa naman sila. Pero papayag ako sa 12-13 years old as a compromise age,” Zubiri said in a separate text message.
(If the admin will push for this, I will not approve of lowering it to 9 years old. My daughter is 9, and I don’t think kids that age have their own mind already. I pity them. But I am amenable to a compromise age of 12 to 13 years old.)
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, said Republic Act No. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act should be given a chance before even amending it.
“In Valenzuela, we put up our own bahay pag-asa (house of hope) as prescribed by law. We have very good results in reforming the kids. Almost 70% of the kids there were reformed and we’re brought back to their families,” said Gatchalian, who served as mayor of Valenzuela City before he became congressman and senator.
“I think we should give the JJW Act a chance. It should be fully implemented,” he added.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a member of the Senate minority bloc, also expressed his opposition to the bill, which is being pushed at the House. IDL/rga
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