So what then is their basis for legislation?
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2019 - 12:00am

Odd was the excuse of two House officers and one at the Senate to lower to 9 or 12 the age of criminal liability. They dismissed the reasons from specialists in pediatrics, brain development, psychology, criminology, and penology to retain it at age-15. Why base all legislation on science, they sneered, instead of actual experience for a change?

It’s hazy what the trio meant by that. What’s taught in elementary science and doctorates is clear. Science is data or experience, systematically observed and experimented, from which to learn. That’s in contrast to pure conjecture, superstition, and gossip.

On what basis then should legislating be, if not knowledge? Never from concoction, or for perks, or to suck up to a political biggie in order to retain congressional power.

If anti-science prevails among legislators, what kind of laws would they enact to meet modern challenges? Like, perilous drone incursions into airport perimeters are becoming frequent. Collisions have occurred with an airplane in the United States and a helicopter in Canada, and hours-long runway shutdowns and flight delays caused in many cities. Would the lawmakers’ solution be to hire Superman for sky patrol, or penalize wrongful drone users, require registration of units, and install “geo-fences” (map sensors) that automatically cut off signal between the remote control and trespassing drone? Also, new treatments are being discovered for HIV/AIDS. Should legislators fund those with laws, or take bribes first from pharmaceutical distributors?

On criminal liability, the lawmaking trio says that nine-year-olds are being used as drug couriers, so must be “criminalized.” The scientists argue that those youngsters are victims, not culprits. Along with petty-thieving minors and vagrant street children, they need foster parenting and counseling in Bahay Pag-asa or halfway houses. As for heinous offending teenagers in rape, arson, murder, kidnapping, narco-trafficking and terrorism, those need isolating from society for intensive reformation. But not prison till they turn adult and recidivist.

So keep the liability age at 15 and make that 2006 law work once and for all, the scientists say. Solve the shortage of (1) Bahay Pagasa, only 55 operational out of 114 initially targeted; (2) social workers, only one handling up to 50 inmates instead of the ideal ten; and (3) state funding, only P190 million released since 2013 instead of P400 million per year starting then.

The male trio agrees with all that. Just the same they’re adamant to criminalizing at age-9 if not 12, without saying why. Unlike them, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was candid to explain her vote: “It’s what the President wants.”

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In launching the Great Manila Bay Rehab the Environment department issued closure orders on three long polluting bayside restaurants, then left the enforcement to the city mayors. Was it a cruel joke or an unusual punishment?

Of common knowledge is that mayors in the first place abet the continued spewing of waste into the bay despite citizens’ complaints. Establishments can be fined up to P200,000 a day for pollution. Mayors’ bagmen accept only a fraction to look the other way.

Sanitation, cleanliness, and beautification are among mayors’ basic duties. But their only interest in garbage is the hundreds-million-peso kickbacks derived from collection contractors. The amount of kickback depends on the number of garbage trucks contracted. The more garbage to collect, the more trucks to field, and more money to pass under the table. That’s why mayors do not enforce segregation, composting, and recycling, which reduce ordinary garbage by two-thirds.

Still, it’s a natural start for environment officials to depend on the local officials for the Bay rehab. They may not have field enforcers that mayors do, but they wield coercive power. Hand-in-hand with the Environment is the Dept. of Interior and Local Government. Cracking the whip, the latter can make mayors themselves expose the once-bribing polluters. Involved in the rehab too are Housing and land use agencies. Mayors must give way to them, and stop coddling creek-side squatters and factories from which they derive votes and campaign donations.

 DENR and partners are still crafting a master plan for the Bay rehab. That’s obvious from the way some claim that it can be swimmable by yearend, while others say three years or even a generational habit change. After mobilizing the mayors and city bureaucrats, the barangay officials will follow, then the residents and office-goers.

The rehab should involve the whole Mega Manila. Meaning, not only the 17 cities of Metro Manila, but also the bayside provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Cavite. As well, the parts of Laguna and Rizal provinces that surround Laguna de Bay, which empties into the Manila Bay.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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