The day the House voted on the amended juvenile delinquency law was by far the lowest the 17th Congress has dipped, with no less than Palawan’s very own Rep. Frederic Abueg presiding.
The vote, which lowered the age of criminal liability from 15 to 12 yrs. old, a compromise from the original 9 sought by its proponent, demonstrated the kind of political accommodation practiced by the lower chamber in dealing with Palace agenda.
Rather than subjecting the proposal to an honest and open debate for constructive legislation, it was clear from the proceedings of this measure that the main intent of the House majority was to facilitate presidential predilection to terrorize his perceived enemies. In so doing, they shunned scientific assertions, trashed expert opinion, and ignored the plea of children’s rights groups and international humanitarian agencies.
The logic and reasoning behind lowering the age of criminal liability were clouded by the political intramurals and horse-trading that preceded the vote. They were virtual soldiers who had not to reason why.
Indeed, not a few had tried to convince Congress that children in conflict with the law are primarily victims of the system they grew up with. And amending a perfectly decent juvenile delinquency law that government miserably fails to implement is simply stupid.
Congress’ actuation underlined the President’s absolute sway over this legislative branch, the compromise on 12 years a vain attempt at a soft landing. It was no longer precedent-setting, as it had already been shown in how the House voted on other controversial pronouncements of the president – the death penalty bill, the extension of martial law, the persecution of Senator Leila de Lima.
A sad footnote to this historical narrative is the cameo roles performed by Palawan’s representatives. In Trump parlance, sad.