Palace agrees that focus should be on why children commit crime
By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Malacañang on Thursday said it agreed with the remark made by Miss Universe Catriona Gray that government should “readjust” its focus to why children commit crimes.
“Tama ka dun (You’re right), let’s focus on the problem. We are precisely focusing on the problem because the problem is they’re engaged in crimes,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
In a TV interview, Gray said that children have “pure” hearts but commit crimes because of their “circumstances”.
“So what will we do? We will have to rehabilitate them, learn why they have committed these crimes and then put them back to society,” Panelo explained.
Panelo, however, defended the desire of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to lower the age of criminal liability to at least 12 years old, stressing that it provided rehabilitation to children in conflict with the law.
He said that Gray and other Filipinos should be enlightened because they might have been misinformed about the purpose of the proposed legislation.
“She (Gray) should be educated. She may have been misinformed of the facts given that the opposition to the lowering comes from yung mga dating kritiko ng administrasyon (critics of the administration),” Panelo said.
“When you lower the criminal liability kasama ‘yun (that’s included). You’re focusing the problem with minors involved in crimes,” he added.
Panelo reiterated that children in conflict with the law will not be imprisoned but simply rehabilitated.
“Di naman ikukulong, ire-rehabilitate nga natin (They won’t be imprisoned, they’ll only be rehabilitated),” Panelo said.
“You are solving precisely the problem why these people are engaged in crimes. Siguro (Perhaps) we must give some enlightenment and education kasi maraming di nakakaintindi e (because there are many who do not understand this),” he added.
Panelo also said he was “glad” the Filipino-Australian beauty queen raised the issue.
“It only means that she’s also concerned; which every Filipino citizen should have the kind of concern,” he said.
In an interview over News5, Gray, known for advocating children’s welfare, said that priority should be on eradicating “external pressures” to prevent children from committing crimes.
“I really think it’s important for us to readjust our focus to why these children are committing those crimes. I worked a lot with children and anyone knows that children are not disposed to do that kind of act or to act in that kind of way,” Gray said.
“We can do that by doing a study or seeing the children and asking them, or assessing that community, educating that community, the parents of the children, and you know, the people that are surrounding them. And I feel like that would be a better long-term solution,” she added. (PNA)