Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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No toques a los niños

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Editor’s Note: No toques a los niños (Do not touch the children)

Our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal once said, “The youth is the hope of our motherland”.  While the youthful Rizal said it more than 100 years ago, the fact remains that this still applies to the present time of the digital age.

But it seems that Rizal’s vision for our youth is just killed by the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility, wherein the age of criminal liability was lowered from 15 to 9 years old with preposterous justification that these children are being used by syndicates to commit crimes. Is the the right solution to the problem when these children are allegedly being used by the criminals?

Our lawmakers can see the eye of the needle, but not the eye of the axe! Come to think about it, there are so many criminals in the August chambers who are plunderers, killers and smugglers who are still in power. While some of these children may have committed a crime, but most of them are petty crimes.

It is the duty of the state to protect these children. Nourish, guide and educate them. Throwing them to jail at younger age would not posit reformation as argued by the proponents of the MACR. On the contrary, they would become hardened criminals in the process because they become preys in the midst of the predators in the prison.

Rizal was an active crusader on providing proper education to the youth. Needless to say, in his “La Instruccion” wherein he repeatedly emphasized the need for the Filipinos to get proper education, which was not applicable only in their time but also today. Because Rizal’s knowledge was first nourished by his own mother who patiently taught him at home.

Sadly, now that we are enjoying our freedom away from the foreign tyrants, the ones who are in power are those who have turned into tyrants of their own native land. This is the reason why so many people remain ignorant because the primary cause of ignorance is lack of proper education.

And Rizal pointed out in his writing by saying, “Let us cease to be empirical and routinary. Let us learn to progress. Let us seek the direct good, for life is short and the mission of man is great. Let everyone fulfill his duties and obligations in the sphere in which he lives, not only for the sake of complying with and not failing the mandate, but to do good and to help in the common task of suffering and progressive humanity.”

Lowering the age of the criminal responsibility much more with flawed reasoning that the children are being used by the syndicates in their criminal activities is wrong and cannot be a solution either on short term or long term.

Whoever proposed this bill is not only heartless, but also cruel and callous. The law is oppresive and anti-poor because most of the juvenile offenders are from the poor families and most of them have committed petty crimes. Have we not learned from the Chiong murder case in which sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were kidnapped, raped, and murdered on July 16, 1997? Who did it, members of prominent family in Cebu City and one of them is in a prison exchange treaty in Spain.

Let’s give our children the hope and proper education they deserve and need, and teach them the good manners, right conduct and proper values which they can learn at home, in the school or in the church, but certainly not in jail where the hardened criminals looking for someone to devour and corrupt.

How about about jailing the “Honorable Criminals” in the August Chambers in both lower and upper house as well as the ones who are residing in the Palace?

If Dr. Jose Rizal were still alive today, and when he finds out about this crazy legislation he would say, “Para! No toques a los niños…” (Stop! Do not touch the children!)

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