Filipino children are NOT really THAT innocent

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Perhaps the idea of “chidlhood” is something we in chi chi circles take for granted. But if we step back far enough and regard the bigger swathe of Philippine society or, for that matter, the societies of most Third World countries in general, we begin to see a picture that challenges our long-held and cherished notions of “childhood”.

Actually, scratch that for a moment and dive back into our daily individual existence. Every day and night on the the drive to and from work in chi chi Makati (say), right there with just our car windows separating our comfy airconditioned cocoon and the rest of the country is enough information to fuel a real think of the notion of Filipino “childhood”. At virtually every street corner are Filipino children scraping together whatever they could to contribute to their wretched households. These are “children” — Filipino children — that vastly outnumber the children who populate snowflake Filipinos’ fantasies of “childhood” ingrained in them by Sesame Street.

But even more important is how the average airconditioned Honda Civic driver and passenger regard them. They are regarded with indifference. Even without any new law that criminalises them, they are effectively already imprisoned not just by their unfortunate circumstances but by the banal indifference of the very Filipinos who now issue shrill cries about new legislation that reduces criminal liability to the age of nine. This indifference is, in principle, a general nod issued by the Filipino public to the effective adulthood of these kids.

It is, indeed, laughable the way Filipinos’ “activists” and “thought leaders” now argue against proposals to treat these kids as adults by pointing out how “plunderers” and other crooks who are, by law, “adults” populate the halls of Congress and government executive offices. They fail to realise that these are regarded in much the same way as the average airconditioned commuter regards street kids — with indifference. Filipinos are audience to blatant thievery and fraud splashed on their newspapers and flashed in living colour on their screens everyday. Yet, in much the same way as they give a token couple of knocks on their car windows to dismiss the nine-year-old beggar, they simply issue a brief chuckle then turn the page or change the channel to Pinoy Big Brother or Eat Bulaga after their daily dose of news about their crooked politicians.

Thing is, Filipino “activists” apply a selective lens to both “childhood” and politics. On one hand, shills would be shrieking about the monstrosity of a bill lowering the age of criminality to nine then, on the other, would casually refocus on their iPhones after according a short glance to street kids selling cigarettes on the other side of their car window. This is not much different from a rabid communist raging about “evil” oligarchs and capitalists in their trite street rallies then, in another life, taking part in a selfie in the company of henchmen of the very same oligarchs gracing the year’s chi-chi-est wedding.

In between communist rallies where they decry the ‘evils’ of Filipino capitalists and oligarchs, Inday Espina Varona and Tonyo Cruz find the time to hobnob with the Philippines’ chi chi elites.

The common denominator in the credibility-killing conduct of these so-called “activists” is the company they publicly keep. It is difficult to remain consistent to a principle, cause, or advocacy when personal loyalties get in the way.

So back to the original call to action — step back and take stock of the bigger scheme of things, and we will find that the notion of “childhood” as defined by the liberal affluent West is not one that is generally-accepted by the bigger cross-section of humanity. All over the world there are childs-soldiers, child-brides, and child-labourers who go about their daily business — often side-by-side with their mothers, fathers and siblings. Our definition of “normal” is one we are using to push the tide in a society — Philippine society — that, in actual fact, mirrors the planetary normal and not the “normal” fed to us by the Children’s Television Workshop.

If we truly want to be a society where kids can be children, we need to understand where we as parents and as “activists” fail to be consistent with what are, essentially, colonial ethical principles. Indeed, that such a bill that lowers criminal liability to the age of nine was crafted and had progressed within a body of popularly-elected representatives of the Filipino people says something about the tide being pushed, so to speak, by the small but noisy cliques of chi chi “activists”. There is a bigger reality out there that these “advocates” need to come to terms with. Perhaps it is only when they do really come to terms with this reality that the quality and intelligence of their activism becomes more resonant and relevant to the broader Filipino public.

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23 Comments on “Filipino children are NOT really THAT innocent”

  1. There are squatter areas near me, and what do I hear when I go near them? Kids screaming, “putang ina mo,” “gago, bugbugin kita” and all that. Obviously their adults ruined them, but indeed their innocence is gone. Also, some of them I know who are being taught Sunday school by my church, when they see me, “Kuya Chino, palibre naman.” I’ve politely told them off a lot of times, and I tell them you need to work so you could have money. Same old sense of entitlement is taught to them by the adults.

    1. The behaviour is not even exclusive to the poor. Even at the Ateneo as a grade school student, I recall kids as far back as when I was in the first grade engaging in the sort of deception and manipulative behaviour one would only normally see in adults. These kids are not innocent.

  2. I have a couple of thoughts here:

    1. Your title makes me want to sing a very certain Britney song.

    2. This reminds me of how sometimes, I angst about how fake my childhood was and how it make me incapable of relating to most Filipinos when I reached my teens. Is it that society is fucked up or that I missed out on a lot?

    3. Before I agree or disagree with changing of minimum age of responsibility, it’s not gonna get 9 year olds in the same prison cells with hardened adult criminals, won’t it?

    1. The law does not seem to prescribe incarceration in adult prisons as this report shows…

      Under the proposed law, children aged nine to 18 who commit serious crimes like murder, homicide, rape and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 would be committed to an Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center (IJISC), a special facility within the youth care facility called “Bahay Pag-asa.”

      Children in the IJISC would be required to undergo a “more intensive multi-disciplinary intervention program.”

      Children aged nine to 18 who have repeatedly committed criminal offenses and have undergone a community-based intervention program would be committed to a Bahay Pag-asa, upon written authorization of their parents or foster parents, or by petition for involuntary commitment by the Social Welfare department.

  3. I dont want to sound like a SJW but is there somebody or something who investigates/examines (even if it is only done by a student for his/her thesis) who and why those kids do commit – those – feloneys/crimes? Because if it can be labeled as parents not being around to raise those kids (incapable parents/mothers/fathers), this will not and never solve the case of juvenile incarcerations. In the Dutch language we have proverb for that “dweilen met de kraan open” (literally translated with use of Google translate: “to mop with the tap open”).

    If you really want to put an end to things, look at the cause(s) and look at every angle. And then change those causes for the benefit of those kids and the benefit of the country. Even if that means that some adults/parents should not be allowed to procreate, then so be it. How? By sterilization (vasectomy / tubal ligation).

    1. Mr. Haighton, perhaps the question that should be ask to Pilipinos is why do they patronize so much private school, and their answer will tell you and reveal what is really wrong with the Pilipino society.
      If you have kids, what school will you send them to, public or private? and tell the reason why.

      1. To answer that question is actually very simple.

        The best school in town. The country I live in, schools are tested and examined for their quality (and some other variables) and then the result(s) is printed publicly. If the best school is on the other side of the country then that school is a big no. So I take the best school in the city I live in.

        And why? Because I want my kids tio be taught by the best teachers in the school with best facilities. Its their (my kids’) future that is on the line here.

        Last but not least: in my country we dont have private schools. Each and every school is government financied/funded. And parents do have to pay tuition (annually) as well.

        1. “in my country we don’t have private schools”

          I guess that makes the difference, the affluent people of your country don’t have much of a choice but to send their kids to public school of which since their kids are going to that school, the rich parent have to make sure that the school is properly funded and gets all the necessary things for improvement of the school. In the Philippines, the rich send their kids to a “prestigious” private school where they pay a hefty amount of money so that their kids can have a “better” education, thus the money goes to private school not to public school thus becoming a neglected institution with a low prestige and nobody one cares. So despite of a “better” education from these “prestigious” privately owned by the church school, political leaders just can’t seem to bring the country out of the deep shit.

  4. Children who commit crimes are not innocent. Some are taught by their parents to be criminals. Some are being used by criminals to commit crimes, like snatching valuables from people.

    I believe in reducing the age , by which these young criminals can be prosecuted. On the other hand, they must be incarcerated to a special institution, where they can be reformed.

    These children, have “squatter mentality”, a sense of entitlement, by which these politicians have ingrained in these squatter families, to gain their votes during elections.

    The elites in our society have nothing to do with them. The politicians see them as rich vote sources; and go to them during elections, to falsely show their concerns with the poor. They can be used as photo props for politicians running for offices….

    Until we can formulate laws and programs that can really uplift the poor in our country. These problems of abject poverty, squatter mentalilty, criminal children, etc…will continue to fester !

  5. They are not really that innocent because they are just getting smarter, too bad, the Pilipinos just could not see this smartness that is why the country is just going down the drain.

    1. PRISON PRODUCES THE BEST BOXERS … it is in prison great boxers are born … Boxing is education-optional. People with less education end up in prison. Survivors of prison rumbles become great boxers. Once great boxers retire they retire back in prison.

  6. Another debate: someone on my Facebook against this said that because they don’t always follow due process for adults anyway, what more kids? What do y’all have to say about that statement?

    1. “don’t always … ” LOL.

      The whole idea is completely stupid for any number of reasons. Only Filipinos would think stepping back into the 16th Century would improve things.

      I suspect the main reason the proposal is even being taken halfway seriously is that Filipino adults all think they’re wonderful people. Those children are all out there begging and stealing because they’re bad kids … right? Can’t possibly be anything to do with their vile parents, who deserve to rot in jail for eternity.

    2. If Filipinos were Christians (as they often insist that they are) they might recall this verse:

      “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.”

      Of course, Filipinos aren’t Christians, so they don’t.

        1. I’m in favor of making Filipinos responsible for their actions.

          The fundamental problem at the moment is that NOT ONE OF THEM is EVER held accountable for their actions. FOR ANYTHING.

          Talking about lowering the criminal age of responsibility completely misses the point.

  7. If there are laws concerning minors committing crimes then those laws should be taught in school at an early age as early in the elementary level so that if they graduate from elementary or high school then it can be assumed that they know the law and the punishment that goes with it, they are no longer ignorant or innocent. Why wait to go to law school and be a lawyer? If laws are for everyone then everyone should learn them, not just lawyers.
    Is there a law stating that for any boys who commit a rape crime will get a punishment of jail time and castration?
    Is there a law stating that for any girls who got violated, have the option to keep it or abort it?

  8. I once came across an article saying that even now while the age of criminal responsibility is still 15, they are still locking children up even though they’re just supposed to be rehabilitated. No idea if it was just overly sensationalized, I didn’t read it, I just saw the thumbnail and its title and description. I haven’t made my mind up on this, is this good enough of a basis to keep the age of criminal responsibility the way it is?

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