Akbayan party-list today decried President Duterte's statement giving military forces the go signal to bomb escaping terrorists along with hostages, if any, saying this reveals a dangerous mindset that cheapens life and devalues human beings.
"This is the same mindset behind the official complacence over the thousands of extra judicial killings," said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros. "Even though none can say for certain if those killed in this campaign are guilty or not."
"Duterte has to understand that nobody has to die just so criminal elements can be destroyed," added Cabreros. "As a lawyer he should focus on the tedious, unsexy task of reforming the justice system he is a part of instead."
"This is the only way by which he can convince the country that he actually has a vision for governance," explained Cabreros. "and that his core competency is not just limited to kill, kil, kill."
"Because when the country runs out of drug suspects, and terrorists, who will Duterte go after?"
"Violence is no way to run a country," added Cabreros. "Progress should never be an us-versus-them equation," added Cabreros, "the formula for a better future is all of us working together, taking care of each other, even those who have fallen behind and have lost their way."
"Filipinos can do better than the bloodlust being promoted by this administration. We deserve better than this culture of death."
Akbayan today joins members of the Child Rights Network in lobbying legislators against the passage of HB02 which seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9, otherwise known as the Batang Bilanggo Bill (BBB).
Together with children advocates, Akbayan went room to room visiting legislators' offices to distribute holiday cards with messages coming from children themselves. These messages implored legislators not to support the BBB.
Akbayan supports CRN, the children and their families in their holiday wish for the legislature to turn its back on a patently cruel legislation that will stunt children's growth and would rather incarcerate rather than rehabilitate delinquents.
Given the current state of our justice system, jampacked jails with snail-paced courts will only mean minors who commit infractions that could otherwise be rehabilitated will instead be subjected to further risk and abuse when mixed with regular inmates.
This approach, which BBB will legalize will not solve the problem of criminality. It will only scratch the surface and allow the big time crooks and syndicates to get away with trafficking children.
BBB is only treating a symptom, rather than rooting out the poverty that lies behind the vulnerability of children to come into conflict with the law. BBB is prescribing a hammer to solve the problem of an ant, it is like pouring acid on a burn.
Akbayan calls on all legislators to turn their back on this absurd measure and focus on solving the problems that matter most: lifting poor families out of poverty so keep their children away from crimes and a life of misery.
At no time have been our human rights, democracy and Constitutional freedoms under attack more directly than today. We must collectively resist and call for the greater protection of our democratic rights as institutions designed to uphold them are instead at the forefront of eroding these very same principles enshrined in the highest law of the land.
Underlined by thousands of unresolved, extra-judicial murders, we see the resurgence of cruel, degrading, inhumane measures that cheapen life and glorify death as a solution to the complex problems that we face as a society.
The reinstatement of the death penalty, and this time through lethal injection, firing squad or hanging -- is a gigantic step backward unheard of in a democratic society. The coverage of heinous crimes to be committed is problematic because it has moved the line farther on what infractions are defined as heinous.
The bill reinstating the death penalty is a heartless, bloodthirsty measure.
The situation becomes even more dire when this is combined with a proposed bill that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 9. Instead of rehabilitation, legislators are giving up on our children and would rather send them to jail, oblivious to the fact that children who lose their way are often victims themselves of other criminals.
Members of Akbayan party-list together with child rights advocates today trooped to the House of Representatives to call on legislators to abandon plans to pass a proposed measure that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 9 years old.
"This bill misses the point -- that poor kids are often used by syndicates for their illegal activities, and children who comes into conflict with the law should be rehabilitated, not incarcerated," said Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, a father of two teenage girls, and is opposing the bill.
"Malupit sa bulilit ang panukalang batas na ito, at mahihirap ang siguradong tatamaan na naman dahil sila ang walang kakayahang kumuha ng abogado para ipagtanggol ang sarili."
"We need to pause and seriously reflect for a moment if we are willing to sacrifice the future of our children just to feel a sense of security, just to feel safe," added Villarin. "This mindset is inhumane, and we can be better than this."
"We call on all citizens to exercise empathy, and draw the line at children," pleaded Villarin. "This bill, when taken together with the bill reviving the death penalty through hanging, lethal injection or firing squad are cruel, degrading mean-spirited measures that cheapen life and destroys our sense of community."
Akbayan supports the decision of the Vice-President to resign from the Duterte Cabinet. VP Robredo's principled stance against the thousands of extra judicial killings, the reinstatement of the death penalty by hanging and firing squad, lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old, among others, stands in stark contrast to the culture of fear, violence, and death that this administration has come to stand for.
Her staunch opposition to the burial of Marcos as a hero is an embarassment to an administration that against all moral and legal logic has defended and pursued in order to fulfill a personal campaign promise to a financier.
It is worthy to revisit the facts that surround Leni Robredo's ascent to the Vice-Presidency: a champion of good local governance who lawyered for poor people's causes such as that of the Mapalad farmers, who embarked on a cashless campaign that rode on the goodwill of ordinary people who saw in her a platform to pursue the welfare of those at the laylayan.
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