Return to Innocence

10:08 AM Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Well, I highly doubt i'll ever be innocent again. But still, I spent two days (Mon-Tues) attending a seminar on handling CICL cases (Children In Conflict with the Law). I also learned about R.A. 9344 (also known as Pangilinan Law because it was championed by Kiko Pangilinan, our country's response to UNICEF's challenge) and restorative justice which some believe is a better one than the retributory, punitive justice system we have, especially for kids.

It's been 3 years now since this law has been passed and its progress has been very slow. For one thing, it requires a major paradigm shift for all lawmakers and enforcers. It also requires additional budget for more youth homes, social workers, rehab centers, and information drive.

And then there's the fact that gangsters, syndicates, even parents have capitalized on this by getting children to do their dirty work for them as all kids 15 years and below are exempted from criminal liability (but not civil liability and rehab). 12-15 year old kids can brandish guns very well too, so they are being used in the wars being waged in Mindanao.

Going back to the paradigm shift required, this law acknowledges that all kids below 18, regardless of their crime, are also victims of their circumstance. Which is why intervention, diversion, rehab programs for them are important so they can still have a chance to become productive, contributing adults in future. Theoretically, it does seem like a sound argument, after all, kids who are jailed end up just becoming better, hardened criminals from learning from the pros. But practically, it can be a logistic nightmare to implement. After all, the resources required to follow and monitor a child's progress is immense. And he may not always have his parents or the community's support (heck, he may not have parents for that matter).

One thing I realized and have to get used to is that restorative justice doesn't aim to take away more from the victim and his family. It's just that it hopes jail will be a last resort rather than the first option. And offenders will be made to make amends somehow.


Filipinos actually have great laws! I just hope we're good at implementation however.


  1. I agree with you sis :) Implementation of the law is always lacking.


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