“Children in conflict with the law are already victims of circumstances, mostly because of poverty and exploitation by adult crime syndicates.” – Lotta Sylwander, United Nations Children’s Fund representative to the Philippines
From 15 years old to 9 years old – that’s what the House committee on justice recently approved.
“Let it be understood that with the present bill, we are not putting these children in jail but in reformative institutions to correct their ways and bring them back to the community,” explained House justice panel chairperson and Oriental Mindoro First District Representative Salvador Leachon. “They are not branded as criminals but children in conflict with the law.”
According to the unnamed bill, children from 9 years old and below 15 years old who committed serious offenses – murder, parricide, infanticide, serious illegal detention, carnapping, and violation of the dangerous drugs law – would be brought to Bahay Pag-asa for rehabilitation.
On the other hand, exploiter of the child – and there are many of them, including parents – would face 12 to 20 years in prison if the crime committed has a punishment equivalent to 6 years in jail time.
Now, if the child in conflict with the law commits a crime where the punishment is more than 6 years in prison, his or her exploiter would face life imprisonment or up to 40 years in prison, Leachon said.
Parents of the children in conflict with the law would undergo a similar intervention program. Now, if the parents “will not perform” the interference given to them, they would go to jail instead.
If the child in conflict with the law reaches legal age of 18 and fails to reformed, “that is the only time he or she would be sent to agricultural camps or training centers.” Upon reaching 25 years old, he or she will be set free, “whether or not the sentence was completed.”
The law is a wakeup call for parents and parents-to-be. Parents are supposed to provide the needs of their children. Aside from that, they have to be responsible for their children and guide them to have a better future.
I have observed that most of those who grow up and become problems of the society come from broken home families or whose parents have not guided them. There are parents who provide their children the necessities of life but fail to give the proper care and guidance.
Teach your children well, so goes a line of a song.
It must be recalled that on November 20, 1959, the United Nations proclaimed by General Assembly Resolution 1386 the Declaration of the Rights of Child: “they he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms…”
Allow me to share some of the principles stated in the Declaration:
Principle 2: “The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.”
Principle 4: “The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.”
Principle 6: “The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. “
Principle 7: “The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.”
Principle 9: “The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form. The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.”
Principle 10: “The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.”
To end this piece, allow me to quote the words of Jane D. Hull. She said: “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”