Among the senatorial aspirants who are against the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility are Bam Aquino, Neri Colmenares, Sonny Matula, Samira Gutoc, Gary Alejano, Nancy Binay, Romy Macalintal, Grace Poe, Erin Tanada and Florin Hilbay.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – They may not be able to cast their votes yet. But children and various groups advocating their rights and welfare are determined not to miss this midterm elections as an opportunity to voice out the concerns and issues confronting them.
In earlier statement, children’s group Salinlahi pointed out the need to elect legislators who can not just represent their voices in Senate but also stand and protect the interests of the people.
Children’s welfare during emergencies
Last year, international children rights advocacy group Save the Children called on those running for public office to prioritize the welfare of children in times of disasters and emergencies.
This, the group said, entails the implementation of Republic Act 10821 or the Children in Emergency and Relief Act of 2016 that aims to address the needs of children before, during, and after a disaster or emergency situation.
Children, the group added, are vulnerable in times of natural and man-made disasters, as seen in the aftermath of the Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall in recent history, where about six million children were affected.
Many children were also affected by the Marawi crisis, which President Duterte recently refused to fully rehabilitate and has instead sought private companies to do it, to the dismay and outrage of human rights organizations.
Children victims of tokhang
Children, too, have unfortunately become victims of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.
The killing of Kian Delos Santos has brought to fore the evils of the war against illegal drugs, which mainly targets the poor.
The three cops involved in the killing were found guilty by a Caloocan court. However, then Caloocan police chief who was fired after the Kian killing is now head of the police Highway Patrol Group.
While Duterte has already admitted in his speech that his illegal drug drive is a failure even after ordering the deaths of those he called “idiots,” former police chief and now senatorial aspirant Ronald Dela Rosa continues to stand by it, saying that he found it imperfect but not wrong.
Stand on CICL
The proposed lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to nine has been raised early this year. This has been met with criticism, saying that this will bring more harm than good to children as proven by scientific and solid studies.
Children rights groups said the proposal reflects state abandonment, most especially of children belonging to poor families who are most vulnerable to crime syndicates or committing petty crimes.
Among the senatorial aspirants who are against the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility are Bam Aquino, Neri Colmenares, Sonny Matula, Samira Gutoc, Gary Alejano, Nancy Binay, Romy Macalintal, Grace Poe, Erin Tanada and Florin Hilbay. They also took notice of the state of Bahay Pag-Asa or the rehabilitation centers for children in conflict with the law, saying these must be improved.
On Lumad students
The plight of Lumad continues under the present administration, with militarization of their communities and the third extension of martial law rule in Mindanao. No less than President Duterte himself threatened to bomb their schools.
Senatorial aspirants Colmenares and Diokno have been very vocal on their stand on the plight of the Lumad and in questioning the martial law rule in Mindanao, which, they said, has resulted in grave human rights violations.
As then Bayan Muna lawmaker, Colmenares has asked the Supreme Court to rule favorably to the petitions they filed, seeking protection for the Lumad under attack. He was also among the first to condemn extrajudicial killings and other rights violations among the Lumad, including the infamous Lianga massacre.