La Salle Brothers on child rights
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2019 - 12:00am

Br. Armin Luistro FSC, DLSP president recently requested me to reprint a Jan. 25 statement of the La Salle Brothers on the rights of children. Here is the statement: 

An invitation to live with courage our Lasallian legacy of upholding the rights of young people

 We write today to invite you to renew our commitment to the welfare of young people. As we celebrate Catholic Teacher’s Day, we are emboldened by the memory of John Baptist De La Salle. As a response to God’s call, which he discerned in the lives of poor youth, he formed a community of educators. Together and by association, the community De La Salle founded endeavoured to create an environment where young people are enabled to participate in society in a Christian spirit. 

That dream to liberate young people from ignorance and free their best gifts to benefit the common good – that dream remains ours to live and fight for. Today, there are many forces that undermine the honored place of young people in Philippine society. There is among those who govern us, no reference to principles in their use of power. Political convenience and amassing more influence are valued more than truth or commitment to justice. Everywhere, we find violence done to human life and a lack of accountability in the discharge of public duty. We refuse to allow our children to live in an environment that is morally impoverished and that ultimately kills the spirit. 

The proposal in Congress to lower the age of criminal liability is but another demonstration of how distant our leaders have become from those they lead. By criminalizing youth offenders, those who govern us demonstrate their insensitivity to the plight of young people, especially the poor. It is a desperate act of a government to prove the efficacy of its war on drugs by going after the most vulnerable persons rather than the ringleaders and perpetrators of the drug trade. This piece of legislation, if it should get signed into law, is a final admission of the inefficacy of government’s methods to bring order to our communities. We ask our legislators and our leaders not to lay upon the frail shoulders of young people, the burden of curbing the war on drugs and criminality. We ask them to instead strengthen the supports that will allow young people, especially the poor, to rebuild their lives and empower them to contribute to society. 

Our commitment as educators and as Lasallians is certainly being put to the test by this legislation that seeks to reduce the age of criminal liability. Our calling however goes beyond this. It has and always will be a commitment to enable our young people to realize and live the best version of themselves, whatever their socio-economic status may be. Let us live this call radically by fighting every force or initiative that robs our young people of a vision of themselves as being worthy and dignified. Let us build together those communities that will welcome the dreams and the wounds of young people – one that will enable them to live the faith that God is doing something good in their lives. In doing this, we not only build up the young person but also build up our nation. For when we liberate what is good and excellent in the young person, we liberate as well a force for creating a good and humane society. And so, let us stand up today and be courageous in proclaiming that we are educators who love our country and who care to help her develop the kind of leaders that will be worthy of her. 

Fraternally,

Br. Jose Mari Jimenez, FSC, Auxiliary Visitor for Philippines, LEAD; Br. Armin A. Luistro, FSC, President, De La Salle, Philippines              

Philippine pediatricians speak out

The Philippine Pediatric Society issued the following official statement:

“On behalf of 6,500 pediatricians of the Philippine Pediatric Society, we oppose the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility.

We believe in the following:

•  Positive parenting prevents misbehaviour.

• Evidence-based intervention should be strictly implemented.

• Developmentally immature brain does not make them criminally liable.

•  Institutionalization of children can increase criminal behaviour.

• Appropriate comprehensive assessment of the child, family, school, and community should be mandatory.

Let us defend the rights of the Filipino child.

“The Child Rights Network (CRN) is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines. It has a membership of 46 organizations across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

In a recent statement, CRN said “...for years the implementation of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) has faced setbacks – mainly due to underfunding. We note that currently, there are only 58 working facilities of this type, most are overcrowded and underfunded. Even in the 2019 national budget – recently passed by the Senate – there is literally zero funding to build and maintain more of such institutions. Thus children in conflict with the law are in danger of being placed in regular jail facilities, a clear picture that lawmakers fail or refuse to see.”

Among the many definitions of children’s right is the point where the law intersects with a child’s life. That includes juvenile delinquency, due process for children involved in the criminal justice system, appropriate representation, and effective rehabilitation services; care and protection for children in state care; ensuring education for all children regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity, or other characteristics; and, health care and advocacy. Like in a family,  society should never give up on its children 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on Feb 2 and 16 (1:30pm-3pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC.  For details and registration,  email writethingsph@gmail.com.

CHILD RIGHTS
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