On the news that the age of criminal liability will be lowered to 9 years old, my thoughts went to the wisdom of then President Ramon Magsaysay who said, “… Those who have less in life should have more in law.” A nine-year-old is your every child whose main preoccupation is playfulness, whose mere stability is on the shoulders yet of an elder person and the only offense that could be exacted upon them is mischievousness. Children are just them and all those that make them as musmos pa lamang. No brainer, they have less in life… they are the least among us. Hence, the law must side with their kamusmusan until they are ripe for responsibility. Circumstance must favor their hopes for their future.
True, some of them could no longer be cute and cool as they become delinquently intolerable. But whose hands actually made them so? Whose vile minds did corrupt their naturalness? And from whom did they learn the dirty tricks? Kanino nga ba? Isn’t it true na anumang ginagawa ng matatanda, sa mata ng bata ay nagiging tama? Children are fond of calling whom they admire as “idol”. The Filipino word “idol” is just like saying “Gusto ko maging tulad mo” or “Gagayahin kita paglaki ko”. We say in our campaign against drugs, “Save the user. Jail the pusher.” Could we also say instead, “Save the children? Jail those who have made them rotten!”
Could we already claim that at nine years of age, children are already capable of being responsible just like adults? Are we using the same yardstick and weighing scale when all circumstance are in reality uneven? Unthinkable and unfair. In its claim, the Psychological Association of the Philippines (2016 says, “Children and adolescents differ significantly from adults in decision-making, propensity to engage in risky behavior, impulse control, identity development, and overall maturity.” Which goes to say that in fact and in truth, the proposed law could well verily be a crime against children.
And at that tender age of nine (and even the revised 12), laws would not even permit them yet to have driver’s license (17), to vote (18), to get married (18), to have a business permit (18), among others. Too young to go into business? Old enough to go to jail? Any normal mind would not fathom what lies beneath this proposed law.
Any mind that easily and blindly submits to political dangles vis a vis personal gains must be the ones to be called as childish. And as leaders, were they able to vote from the voice of their conscience? Had they tried to feel for and with their people? Had they considered the fate of their own children and their children’s children? I like Teddy Boy Locsin. While he belongs to the Malacañang Family, he braved and spoke his mind out and blasted those who support the House Bill. He got the balls for the sake of the children. Going against the tide on account of one’s moral principles and family values eventually reaps respect from others even from those whose views are opposed to yours.
Wala na bang ibang mapag-uusapan pa? Obviously, there are still a lot of woes and wobbles that plague our beloved Philippines. Why mess with the children? Dahil ba malililit lang sila? Why jail them instead of keeping them away from that place? Sila lang ba ang kaya natin? How about the real big fish? And when people are already fed up and irritated with them, a voice from the Bible echoes, “Let the children come to me… It is to such as these that the kingdom belongs.” Just let them be. Period.