THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - February 19, 2020 - 12:00am

An incident such as this one seems to justify lowering the age of criminal liability. Seven youths, mostly minors, decided to play a prank on a sleeping balloon vendor in Manila. When one of them set afire to one balloon, they scampered away. What they did not anticipate was the CCTV that caught the whole thing on video. Helium is highly flammable and burns quickly which, of course, these youths were ignorant of. So when one balloon catches fire, then the bunch becomes a firebomb. Unfortunately, the balloons were tied to the vendor's hand so he could not escape the fireball. He suffers burns on his body and is currently in a hospital.

What were they thinking? To get a good laugh? They had nothing else to do that it seemed like a good prank? They were members of a local gang so they feel they could do anything? Let's assume they didn't know the balloons were tied to the vendor, why ruin someone's honest way of making a living? They just wanted to get a kick out of whatever they were expecting to happen. But social media was quick to pick up on the crime infuriating many, present company included. The man was sleeping, bothering nobody, with his goods tied to his hand for safekeeping.

Five of the seven pranksters have surrendered to Mayor Isko Moreno. Four are minors so they cannot be criminally charged. One is 18 years of age so he can be charged and possibly jailed. Two are still at large and are being hunted by the authorities. It is still being considered if the parents of the minors are to be held accountable. I agree. A minor is supposed to be guided by his parents. But honestly, these kids knew what they were doing. It was wrong and yet they went through it. One of them said he thought the balloon would only explode harmlessly. Is that even an acceptable statement to dodge accountability? What must not be lost is the shouldering of the hospital expenses of the vendor not to mention his loss of income because of his downtime. Burns takes a while to heal and needs constant care to prevent infections. All seven must shoulder the expenses or in this case, most of the parents.

Common sense dictates whether a joke or prank would cause harmless fun or not. A joke or prank involving fire is never funny or safe. Fire cannot be controlled once it has the fuel to keep it burning. A bunch of helium-filled balloons is a prime example. I remember the saying, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

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