I don’t have a good feeling about where this administration is coming from or where it’s taking us. And nobody is telling us enough. So, despite misgivings about expressing political views in this space—my own husband warns me enough, and does so sharply, that it’s beyond my field of expertise—here is what’s been eating me up these days.
The insane bill lowering the age of criminal liability to 9, or even 12, from the by itself controversial 15 already set by law, has passed the Lower House under the speakership of Gloria Arroyo, who happens to have no potentially liable children, only adults.
As a Christian woman who has given natural birth to four children, now all grown themselves into both productive adults and reproductive parents—they’ve given me five precious grandchildren, one, at 11, vulnerable under the proposed law—I know how children need adult supervision and also understand how they don’t always get it, especially from parents who, say, work outside the home, not to say out of the country. And I cannot yet imagine parents desperately poor some of them are known to give children away or leave them to their own devices.
Warped and hypocritical
The very motivation behind the bill is as warped as it is hypocritical—“… to protect the children from being used by syndicates who use them as drug runners or couriers.” Instead of going after drug syndicates, the police are going after their child runners, and, with no suitable rehabilitation facilities for them, one can only imagine what cruel fate awaits them.
The lawmakers have turned a deaf ear to the experts, who say the human brain does not become fully developed after age 16, in other words, incapable until then of full discernment between right and wrong, which society—except today’s Congress—more or less concedes. Minors cannot open bank accounts or sign contracts, or vote.
At the Senate, the chair of the committee inquiring into the bill, Richard Gordon, is offering a compromise age—12 instead of 9—and would have us thank his wife for it, because it’s her heartfelt idea, although, asked by reporters, he owned to it, haughtily: “That’s what I feel.” Arroyo herself washed her hands off the House decision: “It’s what the President wants.”
Both attitudes, all the same, do encourage such intelligent debate as desperately needed with every bill, let alone this one. The press is no help either. There’s more foreign news and hardly any local news on current issues; no debates, no discussions. Perhaps our only hope is a potent opposition to the sheep shepherded by the President or by unmotherly wives.
Another thing that I want to complain about—while I’m at it—is the influx of Mainland Chinese. Those in our district are mostly employed in online gambling, and many of them live close around. In fact, our own low-rise condominium is 80 percent occupied by their fellows. I’m told a similar invasion, made successful by top-rate bids, has struck other rented places in the city.
Some of us have had to contend with their uncivilized and inconsiderate behavior, which our own well-educated Chinese-Filipino neighbor could not stand. This behavior is betrayed mainly by sounds not unlike that of dragging furniture around, skipping rope, dribbling a ball, and dropping weights at normal sleeping hours. We’re offended enough by their daytime noise.
Our complaints, delivered by the night deskman and security guard, at the door of noisemakers, were dismissed with the excuse, “No English, no English!” Our neighbor went out of her way to even ask a Chinese cook in a Chinese restaurant to write her complaint in their own language, to no avail.
We have elevated the issue to the board; it is now in the court of the concerned rentier.
I remember seeing on Facebook a disgusting photo of a child relieving itself, on a sidewalk of the Mall of Asia, before its supposed parent or guardian—a Mainland Chinese family, the caption reveals.
The other day, however, I saw something that lifted my spirits: a massive community movement cleaning Manila Bay. This time it was for real unlike the time when Erap was caught in his lie. But quickly a cloud of suspicion formed: it happened almost at the same time that the billion-peso reclamation project there was about to begin.