June 19, 2018, 7:53 pm
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Juvenile offense and punishment

A MINOR was arrested last weekend for helping transport more than 130 kilos of dried marijuana aboard a rental Toyota Hi-Ace van. He was helping his father, Moises Simsim.

“Our informant from Benguet tipped us off to a van loading with marijuana, bound for Metro Manila. Our operatives trailed them the whole night.” Chief Insp. Elizabeth Jasmin, CIDG spokesperson, said the minor admitted to having trafficked marijuana at least three times. The cargo was for drop off at Dangwa vegetable market, and at first opportunity, reshipment to the airport.

The courts must dismiss the case against this minor based on the Juvenile Justice law: that throwing minor offenders in jail with hardened adult criminals is unacceptable. The juvenile criminals are likely returned to the same home and streets with their gang, exposed to more illegal activities, getting no discipline, punishment, rehabilitation. 

Many lawyers, and those involved may be too lazy to study the law: Senator Pangilinan sponsored the bill: “Before dismissing the cases, the judges should first approve a diversion program, that is, referring the minor to the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development for juvenile rehabilitation and discipline. The judge should check the offender’s discernment or ability to tell right from wrong.” The family court under a trained judge should handle the case imposing appropriate rehabilitation. Releasing the juvenile offender outright to the streets, no matter how large the offense or throwing him in with hardened criminals are not the only options. 

If the trend continues, the total number of juvenile cases as of the time of my stats a decade ago, was 20,000. Rules and discipline must be created for juveniles. And juveniles must be made to account under rules designed for them. They must be made to pay for misdeeds by way of social atonement or civil damages or personal deprivation. If we are to teach them the difference of right and wrong, we must also make sure that we institute disciplinary steps to pave the way for their development and improvement. 

At St. Anselm’s Abbey High School in Washington DC which my son attended, deportment and discipline were primary axioms. This Benedictine school’s claim to fame: Its highest number of scholars proportionate to school population, receiving the USA National Scholarship Merit Award. 

At St. Anselm’s, students cleaned up and tidied the administration office. With instructions not to touchor rearrange anything on the Abbot’s desk. On my son’s shift, he spotted on the Abbot’s desk the stack of graded test papers of his class. With unrestrained curiosity, he flipped through the test papers looking for his grade just as the Abbot walked in. “Continue looking for your test paper, and when you find it, deduct 20% from your grade.” My son came home inconsolable, and in tears. His discretion today is stronger than at age 12. 

I arrived to find at a friend’s home, their sala turned into a court room. The 6-year-old plaintiff was standing at the corner. In school earlier that day, unprovoked, he punched the classmate leaving a nasty bruise. Those around (parents, yaya, siblings, family driver) were consulted for a punishment. The consensus: he must give his week’s allowance to his victim as a peace offering. He was distressed; proposed only half of his allowance. “No, your entire week’s allowance will be given to the boy you hurt.” Is the temper of this boy restrained by the memory of such forfeiture?

Does disciplinary diversion work?

***

Dahliaspillera@yahoo.com
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