Punchline

IDs for Muslims a bad idea

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THERE are two legislative measures that I hope our representatives at the Lower House will fully support: the establishment of the national ID system and the amendment of Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 that requires children below the age of criminal responsibility to be promptly turned over to their parents or guardians.

There can be no more debate whether a national ID system is necessary or not. As things stand today, many towns are already set to require Moros and/or Muslims to carry special IDs to be issued by local governments as a measure to check spread of ISIS influence in communities.

The planned ‘moro/muslim ID’ impinges on discrimination based on religion and this could and will fan a religious war that we need like a hole in the head. Fighting off ISIS as an imported source of violence may not attract majority of peace-loving Muslims/Moros but a religious war will compel all Muslims to adhere to the Quran’s teaching about fighting ‘Non-believers’ as a way to Allah.

A national ID will be generic and can pinpoint accountability of a citizen whether criminally or civilly on any activity, event or issue without being emotional.

Amid the crisis in Mindanao and the continued threats posed by insurgents across the country, the establishment of a national ID is a positive response to the threat to national security.

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BRAGGING RIGHTS FOR YOUNG CRIMINAL MINDS. The House of Representatives’ House justice subcommittee on correctional reforms already junked the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal liability from 15 to 9 years old.

In its stead, the subcommittee adopted a new bill that changes the protocol for what the authorities should do with children 15 years and below who have been apprehended for criminal offenses.

Under the bill, the children will be immediately turned over to the local social welfare development officer, “who will assess if it is in their best interest to be released to their guardians, placed under foster care or in a youth care center called Bahay Pagasa” as opposed to the present law that states that children below the age of criminal responsibility are to be promptly turned over to their parents or guardians.

Personally, I would still have preferred the lowering of the age of criminal liability to at least 11 years old but that’s already water under the bridge.

Moving on, one need not look far and beyond for samples of criminal activities that 13-15 years old regularly do either under the direction of elder criminal minds or on their own. 

As many psychologists will attest, minors who commit crimes and get away with them find these as bragging rights among peers of their own age bracket.

Take the Grade 6 pupils who sold shabu to their classmates in Pangasinan for P2 off their baon for no other reason but for an opportunity to do a criminal act reserved for adults.

In Burgos town, a 16-year old, grade 9-student thought of nothing when he brought a handgun to school for a chance to brag. Wonder no more, what he was prone to do when he was 11 years old.

In both cases, the youngsters would not see a day in detention today for the crime that could have earned them at least 6 years of imprisonment if these were committed by adults. They would simply be released to their parents or guardians who have given up any hope of disciplining the youngsters.

They are the kind that make ideal recruits by drug lords, thieves, robbers and kidnappers.

Our lawmakers should not tarry in passing that bill amending the law!

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JUST DO IT, MAYOR BELEN.  The finding of the DILG that no city government official will be found criminally liable if the city hall is transferred to the 1.2 hectares being donated by Mayor Belen Fernandez’s brother did not really surprise many, not even to those who are screaming corruption. By opting to accept a donation is saving the city millions, not fleecing it.

No lawyer or politician worth his or her salt can find fault in opting to use a donated land for a developmental government project except VM Brian Lim and Minority Leader Red Erfe-Mejia, who as members of the majority then under the Lim administration conspired with the former mayor to legislate several measures that were grossly disadvantageous to the city government.

What could have been a sure case of graft in the transfer of the city hall is a decision by the city council to endorse the purchase of the 1.2 ha. of land owned by the Fernandez clan even at a bargain rate. But it is not the case. Far from it!

Yet that’s the Lim administration standard that I’m sure the likes of Messrs. Lim and Erfe-Mejia are now familiar with – to prompt a landowner to sell his/her lot to a business ally and pass on  the offer to sell to the city government  for twice the price ostensibly to serve an urgent need of the city, like a landfill.  That’s what happened in the purchase of the agricultural land in barangay Awai land in San Jacinto town for the sanitary landfill.  The city government lost P16 million, of which P 9 million was pocketed and shared by Dagupan City elected officials.  If the duo had used that as a classic example of their “Korupsyon 101”, they would have been deemed very credible.

Another type of Lim administration deal that Messrs. Lim and Erfe-Mejia, are fully familiar with is the employment of legal mumbo-jumbo to justify the sale of a city asset through back door negotiations for a fire-sale price at the expense of the city. The scheme was made popular by the Judas 9 that was led by the duo.

In both racketeering schemes, there was no attempt to save the city millions but to fleece the city off of its precious revenues and the culprits never looked backed, with no sense of guilt while the city bled and left hanging with nothing.

But if there was one lesson that Fernandez administration could learn from the Lim cabal, it was their focused intent to get things done fast, damning all torpedoes headed their way. I’m not saying the Fernandez administration should learn on how to exploit and steal from the city but to learn when to bite the bullet for the city’s good.

By going through the extra mile just defending what’s good needlessly created problems in public perception about the plan. It was a clever tact that the duo effectively employed to derail and delay the plan, and the majority fell for it. By delaying official action, the Fernandez administration suddenly found itself defensive when it had the benefit of being on the offensive with public support.

However, Mayor Lim proved that he wasn’t the kind to do it for the city, but Mayor Belen Fernandez would. I only wish she has the steely nerve of Mayor Lim to get things done quickly to keep the city waiting with bated breath for good things to happen.

At any rate, I just hope that with no other offer to donate land for the new city hall by Monday, August 7, the Fernandez administration will not continue to seek more justification for the transfer and further delay action on what’s good for the city. If it still does, and the project gets hit by more monkey wrenches thrown by the duo, then the Fernandez administration only has itself to blame.

By God, Mayor Belen, just do it before the duo succeeds in making the issue an emotional one (when it isn’t) that can undo you.