[OPINION] Don't terrorize children
Why are our government officials afraid of children? They are seeing them as future criminals instead of having the hope that they will become great leaders in the future.
If I may ask, with due respect: Do our lawmakers know that they are trying to pass a law that would demonize angels? Do they know what they are doing?
Last January 28, legislators approved House Bill 8858, seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.
The measure mentions the word "discernment" in one of its provisions. It states that if proven that children in conflict with the law acted with discernment, they would be subjected to the "appropriate intervention and diversion" proceedings.
But how can a child act with discernment when minors need guidance every step of the way?
Here's why I oppose the move to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
Section 6 of Republic Act No. 9344, known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, states:
"Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility - A child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability…. A child above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18) years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with this Act."
In the Batas Pinoy website, discernment is defined as "the mental capacity of a minor to fully appreciate the consequences of his unlawful act…. The surrounding circumstances must demonstrate that the minor knew what he was doing and that it was wrong…."
Out of sheer ignorance and innocence, children are unable to "appreciate the consequences of their unlawful act." Untaught and unguided, they may do wrong without regard for laws. They may even have zero knowledge of Congress' current shenanigans involving their future.
Children are children. This is the reason why the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board has age rules for certain movies and television shows that are supposed to be just for adult viewing. Why is parental guidance required?
The government cannot say it is concerned with children's welfare when it is the same government wanting to detain kids.
Our government does not have a heart for children who need parental guidance and understanding. Children commit mistakes for reason of failure which is not their own, but of their parents, elders, government, church, and society. (READ: Children in conflict with the law: Cracks in Juvenile Justice Act)
Even adults may "not know" that they are committing wrongdoing. As Jesus Christ lamented before He breathed His last, referring to Roman soldiers who mercilessly nailed Him on the cross and those who wanted Him crucified: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Are we, as a people and a nation, really getting the "promised change" we have been longing for?
Why make children suffer as criminals when they don't have the slightest right of suffrage to vote for candidates who will protect their rights and well-being? Did any of our children today vote for these legislators who have such a heartless agenda?
Are they trying to amend Republic Act No. 9344 to terrorize children? – Rappler.com
Reni Valenzuela is a businessman, writer, author, painter, songwriter and preacher of God's Word. He is also a former sports columnist and boxer.