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One Billion Rising 2019 condemns abuse of women and children

Women’s groups Gabriela and Babae Ako, along with other progressive organizations gathered for the annual One Billion Rising (OBR) 2019 at Rajah Sulayman Park in Manila last February 16.

With the theme “Rise, Resist, Unite! Labanan ang abuso sa Babae, Bata at Bayan”, the event condemned what it called the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s misogynist and tyrannical attacks against women and people.

According to Gabriela, OBR 2019 was part of the continuing global campaign to end violence against women and to show solidarity with women from all around the world who are rising and raging against all forms of violence against women, especially those perpetrated by the state.

Through street dancing and protest, the groups vowed to intensify their struggle for women’s dignity, democracy and people’s welfare. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

NDFP tells government, ‘Do not criminalize children’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemned the government for seeking to lower the age of criminal responsibility of children from 15 to 9 or 12 years old.                                 

In going after young children, the NDFP’s Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC) said the Rodrigo Duterte government has “intensified its attack on the toiling masses of the Filipino people, particularly the children.”

“Not content with the burning and bombing of alternative tribal schools and the extra-judicial killings of young children in its anti-drug war, the regime has now set its sight on legalizing and institutionalizing its ruthless and vicious assaults against Filipino children’s rights,” the office said in a statement.

The NDFP said the government is using as basis children who are rampantly exploited by crime syndicates, particularly drug syndicates, as basis for its move.

This move of the Duterte regime is a violation of the international law on the rights of children, the NDFP , through its SOPC chairperson and Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma, said .

The Committee on Justice of the House of Representative overwhelmingly approved the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine years old last week while its Senate counterpart—headed by Senator Richard Gordon—said it will recommend a 12-year old limit.

 “You have to make him (Duterte) win. Eh galit na galit ‘yung tao e. kung makita niyo mukha ng Presidente, galit talaga sya sa drugs eh,” Gordon said. (He is really angry. If you see the President’s face, he really hates drugs.)

Earlier, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also said their move is in support of Duterte’s wish to lower the age of criminal responsibility.

The NDFP, however, said Duerte is mistaken in wanting to punish children.

“Statistics show that only two percent of crimes committed are by minors.  Of this two percent, 92 percent are crimes of petty theft and other non-serious offenses,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma also raised fears that jailing young children with older and hardened criminals would only encourage them to eventually become adult criminals themselves.

The NDFP said criminalizing children is not the cure for the criminality among the Filipino youth. 

“The solution is to address the root causes of poverty, and the building a society that is free from oppression and exploitation. That will ensure that children will realize their great potential to make positive contributions to society and so, they will not get involved in criminal activities,” Ledesma said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bill lowering children’s criminal liability draws wide opposition

Government agencies, children’s rights advocates and international organizations are up in arms over efforts at the House of Representative to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) of children from 15 to nine years old.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC) object to the measure, saying the proposed adjustment violate international laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) promoting and protecting children’s rights that the Philippine government promised to uphold.

“It will increase the chances of more children at a younger age to be subjected to judicial proceedings contravening the spirit and intent of the Convention,” the DSWD and JJWC in a statement said.

Both offices recalled that the UNCRC Committee has in fact praised the Philippine government when it passed the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (or RA 9344), which raised the MACR from 9 to 15 years old.

‘Bill by dumbest lawyer’

But President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly complained that the law is too lenient on children in conflict with the law and blamed its principal sponsor Senator Francis Pangilinan.

“This law passed by this son of a b***? He passed the juvenile law…Fifteen years old and you can’t put them in jail!” Duterte in a speech in Puerto Princesa City said.

“You are really nothing. You are the dumbest lawyer I know…I will destroy him,” Duterte said of Pangilinan last November.

In response to Duterte’s wishes, the House Committee on Justice, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, said it will hold a hearing today to repeal RA  9344 as a “priority matter of legislation.”

“[The House of Representatives] will move for the passage of the bill in support of a request from President Duterte,” a statement from Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo’s office last Friday added.

‘Anti poor’

But both the DSWD and the JJWC said that poverty should be blamed on children running afoul with the law.

“Prior to the enactment of RA 9344, studies found that most children involved in crimes were poor.  Most came from dysfunctioning families who lack access to basic needs, parental love and support, with very little education and were usually neglected or abused,” the agencies said.

“Most committed theft and crimes against property.  Clearly, these were crimes committed for survival, safety and security, they added.

A children’s rights group echoed the agencies’ concern, adding dire poverty in the Philippines makes them more prone to criminality and anti-social activities.

“The government should address poverty and make services available to children in conflict with the law. Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old is not the solution. Children should be protected and be given the chance for rehabilitation,” the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia said in another statement.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights and its member organizations including the Children’s Rehabilitation Center also voiced its opposition to the measure, saying the MACR bill neglects that fact that poverty and lack of socio-economic opportunities are the main drivers of child offenses.

“At least 45 percent of the offenses attributed to children are petty theft, robbery and other offenses against property, while 65 percent of children offenders come from poor families,” Karapatan said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Save the Children Philippines also voiced their opposition to the measure.

“Lowering the age of criminal responsibility is an act of violence against children,” the UNICEF said Friday.

“This will only push them to further discrimination, abuse and eventually, into more anti-social behavior,” SCP for its part said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Children vs convicted criminals

Several members of the Philippine House of Representatives want the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility lowered from 15 to nine years old while powerful personalities such as former First Lady Imelda Marcos convicted of graft remain free. (Cartoon by Mark Suva)

Raps filed vs Sagay massacre survivor’s father, police

The mother of the 14-year old survivor of Sagay Massacre last October filed charges against her ex-husband and police officers of Sagay Philippine National Police before the National Prosecution Services of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila, December 4.

In her complaint affidavit, Flor, mother of survivor “Lester” filed psychological violence charges in violation of Section 5 of Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children Act against Vic Pedaso.

Atty. Katherine Panguban, Flor’s lawyer said that her client experienced continuous harassment from Pedaso and wanted to get the custody of their child.

Flor also filed charges versus Sagay City police Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto, SPO1 Julie Ann Diaz, and PO Christine Magpusaw for violating the RA 6710 or the Child abuse Law and violation of the Supreme Court rules on the handling of child witnesses.

Panguban explained that Lester was forcibly taken and interrogated by the police after the massacre when no one is allowed to talk to a child witness unless accompanied by someone he trusts.

The police also wanted Lester to be the primary witness against his fellow survivors.

Atty. Josalee Deinla, spokesperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer hopes that the prosecution will transmit the case to the Court.

Atty. Deinla also said that last November 27 the Sagay Prosecutions Office filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against her client Atty. Panguban but have yet to receive a copy of the compalint. (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Children’s group Salinlahi celebrates 32nd anniversary

Aktibong pagtalakay sa mga isyu kaugnay sa karapatan ng kabataan ang naging kaganapan sa ika-32 anibersaryong programa ng Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns.

Nagsama sama ang iba’t ibang sektor upang pangunahan ang usapin ukol sa kabataan na nararapat pagtuunan ng pansin ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan.

Kasama rin sa programa ang pangkulturang pagtatanghal ng ilang kabataan upang isulong ang panawagan sa pagsulong ng kanilang karapatan lalo na sa panahong ito na laganap ang pang aabuso.

Ipinakita sa kabuuan ng programa ang boses hindi lamang ng mga grupong lumalaban kundi pati ng mga mismong kabataan.

Gabriela leads International Women’s Day celebrations in Manila

Women’s group Gabriela led the celebrations of International Women’s Day in Manila last March 8.

The group called for the release of women political detainees, including genuine agrarian reform, jobs, social justice, social services, children’s rights, defense of the environment, self determination for indigenous peoples and just peace, among other demands. (Video by Divine C. Miranda) Read more