Public office is a public trust, and therefore should be transparent and accountable to the people at all times.
Thus stressed Senator Pia S. Cayetano, who has filed a measure that will mandate the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems in all government offices throughout the country.
Called the ‘Surveillance Camera for Government Establishments Act’ (SBN 503), Cayetano said her proposal seeks to capture on video the day-to-day transactions of government offices, especially those rendering frontline services.
She added that CCTVs will help deter corrupt practices, such as public officials asking for kickbacks or bribes to hasten government transactions.
Further, SBN 503 is aligned with government’s commitments to attain Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
“Ridding our institutions of corruption means better quality social services, which would help the country achieve all SDGs by 2030,” she noted.
The bill mandates surveillance cameras with audio recording technology to be installed and maintained within the premises of government offices, especially in the country’s immigration counters, land transportation offices, customs, internal revenue offices, permits offices, and land transportation offices.
The surveillance cameras shall always be switched on and recording on a 24/7 basis. Security employees or personnel shall be specifically tasked to monitor the video feeds.
Meanwhile, areas requiring privacy like restrooms, shower rooms, changing rooms, and the like are exempted from the installation of CCTV cameras. Concerned government offices shall also prohibit any use, viewing, disclosure, or publication of video recordings that are not within the mandate of the proposed measure.
The use of video records shall only be allowed in specific instances where they are needed: for the investigation or prosecution of a punishable offense; for a pending criminal or civil proceeding; for the avoidance of an imminent threat to persons or property; or to ascertain the identity of a criminal perpetrator.
The senator’s proposal is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge for Congress to help end corruption in government, a call which he reiterated during his fourth State of the Nation Address.
The President earlier made the same suggestion to install CCTV cameras in government offices to monitor the activities of employees and help avoid corruption. #
This is what Senator Pia S. Cayetano had to say about recent calls to revive the Dengvaxia vaccine following the Department of Health’s (DOH) declaration of a dengue epidemic throughout the country.
In a television interview on Friday (August 9), Cayetano said she agreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s position to wait for the advice of local health experts before considering using the vaccine again in the Philippines.
“This is a technical and scientific matter that should be left to the health experts. The President [already] said he’s listening to them, so let’s give this time,” she asserted.
“Sana po huwag muna tayong mag-comment… Kasi litong-lito na ang mga tao,” the senator appealed.
Cayetano said while the issue on Dengvaxia’s revival is yet to be decided on by public health specialists, government officials should focus on discussing policies that will provide Filipino families better access to health services.
“Sana po ang mga politicians, we just discuss policies. Our policy is we want to ensure the safety of the Filipino people. We want to ensure that they have access to [appropriate healthcare services]. The poor should also have access to whatever is available to the rich,” she stressed.
In particular, Cayetano said proper attention should be given on addressing the problem of stunted growth among Filipino kids.
The DOH stated that one in three children in the country remains stunted, a figure which has not improved in the last 15 years.
“We must go back to the health basics. Those should be the concerns that we have. That’s part of our job, to ensure that the poorest of the poor are covered [by our health budget] and that these children become healthier,” she noted.
“We need to address this because this will help our children fight [dengue]. When they are malnourished or do not have the proper vaccinations, they are more susceptible to diseases,” she added.
The principal author of the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act and several other public health laws, Cayetano has filed bills in the Senate seeking to improve health services for Filipinos, including measures that seek to provide one midwife in every barangay; establish specialty centers in DOH hospitals and medical centers; institute the utilization and promotion of Folic Acid food fortification and supplementation; and the Build, Build, Build counterpart program for public health facilities.
The senator’s initiatives are in line with the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3 of the SDGs, which urges nations to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. #
Reporter: Ma’am, ‘Yung una po muna, hingi lang pong reaction dun sa biro ng Pangulo kahapon na, “When will your dynasty end?”
Sen. Pia: Yeah, so first of all, biro nga ‘yun, ‘diba? So biro ‘yun, so if you ask me, biro. So I’ll leave it at that, kasi there are more important issues there. And that’s the TESDA App that was just launched [in Taguig City], which I feel is so interesting. And I think we should draw attention to what the important issues are, not a joke.
But on that note, that is also something that I’m always willing to talk about. Kasi when you talk about dynasty, I always ask, let’s talk about governance. And I think with all due humility, the President’s high regard for our family, for my brother, is evident in no less than his being his endorsed Speaker.
So, we’re so proud… I call on everyone to judge the new Speaker on the work that he will do. I’m so excited to be back in the Senate. I’m so excited for the work that I have to do as the new Chair of the Committee of Ways and Means and Chair also of the Committee on Sustainable Development.
So, we want to be judged on the work that we do. That’s an open book, and we want to really do the kind of job that will make the Filipinos proud that they elected us. Let’s make it clear, we were elected.
Reporter: Ma’am, does it also mean that you as part of the Senate or Congress will not support the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill?
Sen. Pia: No. I’ve always said and you can always just refer to my statements on this. I always have an open mind on any issue that is brought on the floor. That has always been the position I’ve taken.
I may have biases, so when you look… I did a quick scan on the political dynasty bills, and there are different definitions of political dynasty. So… it’s my job to have an open mind and to look at it.
Reporter: ‘Yung Dissolution of Marriage Bill niyo po, can you explain lang, divorce po ba ito? Ano po ang mga magiging changes nito compared sa annulment?
Sen. Pia: That’s a very good question. And I think ang question niyo should be directed at those people who do not like the term “divorce.” You should ask them what they mean by dissolution of marriage versus divorce because I do not know.
I humbly have to say that I do not know what the difference is, but as one of the authors of the bill in the House of Representatives, I believe it was entitled, “Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage” precisely to address the discomfort that some had with the term, “divorce.”
But if may difference ‘yun, the title is there… But ako naman, as the author here also in the Senate, happy naman ako to listen to any and all concerns. I’m just happy that it’s being discussed.
For the record, there are three kinds of bills that were filed in the House. And I’ve refiled so far two of them – the Absolute Divorce or Dissolution [of Marriage], that’s one. And then the other one is the Foreign Divorce, which is actually already an existing form of divorce, actually the only form of divorce recognized in our Family Code.
We just fine-tuned some details, which we were told for the last almost decade na it becomes a stumbling block for making that provision in the existing Family Code easy to use. It’s become very cumbersome for people to use because of lack of clarity. So ‘yun lang ‘yung sa Foreign Divorce.
Reporter: Ma’am, sa dissolution of marriage, paano siya naiba sa annulment, ma’am?
Sen. Pia: If you look at Article 36 on Annulment, the only ground there is the psychological incapacity. That is the existing ground that we have under our Family Code. So the grounds for divorce that I filed, there are more grounds. Some of them are similar to the grounds for legal separation. So that’s the easiest way.
You know what, I’d be very happy to have a forum on this and to answer more questions, kasi well it’s something that I’ve really worked on and I really believe in, so I’m happy to answer questions para walang… para people would understand, parang FAQs.
Reporter: Why do you think is it time for the Philippines to legalize divorce?
Sen. Pia: My answer to that is based on scientific evidence. We went to three countries, [for consultations held by] the House of Representatives, where we had a lot of kababayans.
I would say it’s partly because of that one bill, that is on the Foreign Divorce, because we have so many kababayans who are married to foreigners. But we also realized that so many of our kababayans are married to Filipinos and therefore, their need would be a regular divorce or dissolution of marriage.
And so we went to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Japan, and we had hearings in the House and I have met with so many groups espousing divorce, and the stories are so sad. I hear one story, I think, “Wow, this is the worst,” and then I hear another story, it’s about mostly women – but of course it applies to both – women who after their husbands have left them, beaten them up, had another family, had other wives, they’re still supporting that man. Because under the law, they are required to support the man.
And even – in this particular story – even her grown children were saying, “Nay, iwanan mo na si Tatay.” Eh pero she feels that she has a legal obligation, a moral obligation, until ma-divorce ‘yun. Baka sabihin niyo, ba’t hindi annulment? Eh kasi sa annulment, some of them don’t want to avail of it, because wala naman daw silang psychological incapacity to fulfill their obligations. Pinaninindigan nila na hindi sila pasok doon.
You can… As soon as we start discussing this, I know that my Facebook will be flooded with questions on divorce. Kahit anong topic ang pag-usapan, laging meron pa ring bumabalik sa divorce. And all over the country, during the campaign, I was asked repeatedly about it…
Reporter: Have you looked at the chances here in the Senate?
Sen. Pia: I haven’t really bothered. As you know nga, the committees that I will be chairing this Congress are new to me. So, dun ako naka-focus. I haven’t really had time. It’s just that I’ve also read what you’ve read na most people tend to be open-minded because they’ve also heard stories of people they know, people who come to them. So I’d like to believe, I’d like to hope that people would have an open mind.
And what I always reiterate, for those who are against it, you don’t have to avail of it. For those who are against it, in your own church, in your own religious organization, you can continue to believe what you want to believe. That is your supreme right. And never ko po aapakan or never ko… Wala ho akong karapatan na kwestyunin ang paniniwala ng mga tao when it comes to spiritual and religious reasons.
But when it comes to legal, it is my obligation to have an open mind and pass laws that will be applicable to all Filipinos who want to avail of it. Kasi remember, this is a kind of law that is not mandatory, this is a kind of law people can avail of. ‘Yun ‘yun eh, may difference ‘yun.
Reporter: So parang it’s a privilege?
Sen. Pia: Let’s say it’s an option. Baka mamaya may legal implication pa ‘yung privilege. It’s an option.
Reporter: Sorry ma’am, additional grounds, irreconcilable differences, ano pa ‘yung mga possible grounds?
Sen. Pia: Give me time na balikan ko ‘yun, kasi ganun ako eh. Move on na ako sa ibang bills after napasa ‘yun sa House. I was hoping napasa na ‘yun sa [17th] Congress. Let me just go back to it and then I’ll discuss it further.
Reporter: Last na po, aside from the grounds, what else are the advantages of divorce over annulment? Kasi sabi nila may annulment na nga bakit pa may divorce?
Sen. Pia: Ah hindi. Kasi if you look at our provision on Annulment, any law student can tell you, we have one article on it. That’s it. One article – Article 36. There’s actually no provisions on support, they just use by analogy other provisions on support. There are no provisions on the procedure, so the bill that we filed, the bill that is the product of the House…
I’ll reiterate ‘House,’ kasi I was in the House of Representatives, lagay niyo na lang ‘yun as background, baka malito ang ibang tao na what I’m talking about na bill na na-hear, that was while I was in the House. This is a product of lengthy discussions and so there’s a lot more details in it, including support, including what is known in other countries as alimony, napag-usapan din ‘yun kasi issue ‘yun. Some believe na in other countries, dahil sa walang forever, pero ‘yung support may forever. So mabigat daw, mabigat.
So we had long discussions about that, and we tried to look for middle ground na there would be, if I remember right, please let’s confirm it lang, three years of support for the spouse who was dependent on the working spouse. Kasi ‘yung objective nga is mag-move on ka na, try to get gainfully employed also, give that person enough time to also gainfully…
But I wanna have an open mind about it if kailangan longer, kasi the objective din naman is to not abandon the spouse who dedicated their life to being a homemaker, whether it’s a man or a woman, it applies both ways.
But kaya ko rin naisip na hindi rin tama na ‘yung forever kasi paano kung ‘yung breadwinner, katulad ng mga na-meet ko na OFW? Tapos 20 years na siyang nagtatrabaho dun, sinusuportahan niya ang asawa niya, and then worst case, ‘yung asawa niya na nambabae na nagkaanak na sa iba, baka siya pa magbibigay ng support forever because siya ang technically working, you know what I mean?
So you have to weigh these things. Sasabihin, yeah, pero si mister naman sa bahay ‘yung nag-aalaga ng mga anak, pero nangaliwa din siya. So iba-balance mo rin lahat ‘yun eh. So, I can’t pretend that there’s a simple, easy, hundred percent fair, but we have to do our best.
Reporter: ‘Yung finile niyo po, that was the same bill that was passed in the House last [17th] Congress?
Sen. Pia: Yes, but I’m very open pa to even making my own amendments to it.
Reporter: So kung ano ang pumasa sa House, ‘yun ang ni-refile niyo?
Sen. Pia: Oo, kasi you have to remember, that was a product of members of the House. Eh nandito na ako [Senate, 18th Congress], so kapag nandito naman ako, minsan naman nagkakaroon din ako ng bagong ideas, and then syempre… Ano naman ‘yun, kumbaga free for all ulit.
Sen. Pia: Ay tapos na siya, pasado siya [by the House in the 17th Congress]. Oo, walang nangyari dito [sa Senate in the 17th Congress].
Sen. Pia: That’s a good question, I have to say that it’s kinda my observation also, I don’t know kung may survey talaga. But it’s kinda my observation pagka ganun, ‘yung mga babae, “Yes!” Ta’s ‘yung mga lalaki, “‘Wag na ‘yan…”
Reporter: Pero do you find it a relief na ‘yung mga [inaudible – senators] most of them at least open to discussion?
Sen. Pia: Ganito, sa dami ng trabaho ko, kasi nga ‘yung mga bagong committees ko, and again, I have to emphasize ‘yung Committee on Sustainable Development, andaming sakop nun, syempre happy ako kung kahit anong bill na sinusulong ko maraming support, dahil mababawasan din ‘yung trabaho ko dahil wala na ako masyadong kukumbinsihin. So I’m always happy naman na open-minded, or may support, or willing to discuss, I’m always happy. Thank you!#
Consistent with the celebration of ‘Plastic-Free July,’ Senator Pia S. Cayetano has called on the Senate to do its share in supporting the global movement to ditch single-use plastics and reduce plastic pollution.
In a brief manifestation during Monday’s session (July 29), Cayetano reiterated her plastics-free advocacy by urging fellow senators not to contribute to the generation of plastic wastes in the country.
She enjoined her colleagues to adopt a policy of prohibiting PET bottles in plenary or during Senate hearings.
As an alternative to plastic, the senator had bamboo tumblers distributed to her colleagues in the session hall.
This was not the first time that Cayetano made an appeal to the Senate to be more environment-conscious in the conduct of its duties.
In 2012, Cayetano wrote a letter to the Senate Secretariat suggesting that water dispensers be set up in the Senate halls, instead of distributing bottled water during session and public hearings.
“This was adopted at that time, but I don’t really know what happened in the (last) Congress because I wasn’t here. So may I propose that we adopt it once again, especially since it is July, which is No-Plastic Month,” Cayetano told her colleagues.
“To help support my colleagues in shifting to a more sustainable way of drinking water or whatever beverage you prefer, I am giving all of you bamboo tumblers, which you can use in lieu of single-use plastics,” she added.
In 2011, Cayetano also requested the establishment of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and enforce a ban on plastic bags within the institution’s premises. This resulted in a 50-percent reduction in the solid wastes generated by the Senate during that year.#
Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed a bill seeking to enact a comprehensive sustainable forest management strategy to safeguard the country’s dwindling forest resources.
Through Senate Bill No. 284, or the ‘Sustainable Forest Management Act,’ Cayetano wants the country to preserve and optimize the utilization of forest resources in line with the government’s sustainable development agenda.
She said protecting forest resources forms part of government commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the Philippines adopted in 2015. Goal 13 of the SDGs urges nations to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
“Forests provide the country with natural resources that contribute to economic growth. They provide livelihood through raw materials that are converted into finished products,” Cayetano said.
“At the same time, forests serve as protection and buffer from natural disasters, and help mitigate the effects of climate change,” added the senator, a known environment advocate.
She lamented, however, how the Philippines has been losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest each year, increasing the risk of massive social and economic losses from resource depletion and climate disasters.
“As President Duterte said in his SONA, natural disasters are poverty creators. And so protecting our forests is not only an environment matter, but an economic imperative,” she stressed.
Cayetano’s bill seeks to promote land use practices to protect existing forest resources, conserve our fragile biodiversity, and rehabilitate deforested or denuded areas.
The Forest Management Bureau shall be the primary agency to oversee the development, management, and utilization of forest lands, including the identification of areas for protection or production purposes. An Undersecretary for Forestry position shall also be created under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Furthermore, the bill rationalizes the establishment, operations, and development of forest-based industries, mandating the DENR to institute measures for an open and competitive market of our forest products.
SBN 284 pushes for the establishment of agroforestry economic zones to ease the conduct of business and attract local and foreign investments.
The proposal also seeks to improve the quality of forestry education to develop highly skilled human resources in the field of sustainable forest management.
Finally, SBN 284 provides for a Community-Based Forest Management Program (CBFMP) to be undertaken by concerned national agencies and the local government units.
“With this, we aim to empower indigenous people’s groups and other forest-based communities as stewards and partners in managing our forest resources in a sustainable way,” Cayetano noted. #
Building on the country’s progress to respond to both natural and human-made calamities, Senator Pia S. Cayetano filed a bill seeking to merge the functions of different agencies involved in disaster risk reduction and management to form the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
She said that while the current law (Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act or RA 10121) coordinated the efforts of various agencies on disaster risk reduction, there remains a need to establish a single, accountable agency in charge of responding to disasters.
Cayetano’s proposed “Department of Disaster Resilience Act” mandates a sole government department to take over the policy-making, coordination, and monitoring functions of the present ad hoc inter-agency council on disaster risk reduction and management.
In stressing the need for a separate agency for disaster resilience, Cayetano cited that the Word Risk Index ranks the Philippines third among nations with the highest risk from disasters, next to Vanuatu and Tonga.
“Owing to our geographical and natural features, the Philippines is inherently prone to disasters, both natural and human-made. And more so in the era of climate change, where extreme weather conditions have become the new normal and reality for many Filipinos,” Cayetano pointed out.
The bill also aims to implement the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 in addressing disaster risks and climate change.
The proposed DDR will be equipped with bureaus specifically tasked to deal with disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, and humanitarian and disaster responses.
The applicable powers, funds and appropriations of existing government agencies from different departments will then be transferred to the DDR.
These agencies include the Office of Civil Defense (DND), Climate Change Office, Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (DENR), Health and Emergency Bureau (DOH), Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DSWD), and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Meanwhile, PAGASA and PHIVOLCS will be attached agencies of the DDR.
Cayetano is the author of the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (Republic Act No. 10821), which ensures attention and assistance to children before, during, and after disasters. She also introduced gender provisions in RA 10121, including the promotion of breastfeeding, and the establishment of safe spaces for mothers and children in evacuation centers. #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for the establishment of a common national policy on education that will train Filipino students to be job-ready and globally competitive.
In filing Senate Bill No. 62 or the ‘Education Roadmap Act,’ Cayetano aims to institutionalize an education roadmap that incorporates the needed skills and competencies that industries constantly look for in new graduates.
The senator said her proposal seeks to guarantee gainful employment for Filipino students after graduation by addressing current ‘overlapping and confusing education policies.’ Furthermore, the measure aims to make the Philippines at par with its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of producing a competitive workforce.
Under SBN 62, an Education Roadmap National Coordinating Council shall be created to design, formulate, and monitor implementation of the educational roadmap.
The council shall focus on five key components, namely, Global Languages, Graduate Competencies, Teacher Competencies, Capacity Building for Centers of Excellence, and School-to-Work Transition.
Furthermore, the national policy on global languages shall be aligned with the Common Framework of Reference for Languages to warrant national and global competitiveness, especially in the areas of education and labor.
“The roadmap incorporates a careful review of existing curricula so that the skills required by local and international industries from new graduates are integrated in our academic programs,” the senator explained.
“This roadmap also aims to strengthen capacity building for teachers so that they could properly equip their students with relevant skills and competencies,” she added.
The bill includes a policy for the seamless progression of students from basic education to higher education and, eventually, to employment. This involves strengthening and expanding internship, apprenticeship, and dual-training programs for students, as well as dynamic collaboration among the government, academe, and industry.
“To ensure that our students’ training are aligned with the requirements of their future employers, industry sector representatives shall be consulted or tapped in developing and implementing the educational roadmap,” Cayetano noted.
“Our education program must constantly keep up with the changing and growing needs of industries. We must also secure lifelong learning opportunities for our youth so that they will be globally competitive and job-ready upon graduation,” the senator said.
A staunch advocate of youth empowerment in Congress, Cayetano has championed several measures to improve the quality and accessibility of education. Among her latest proposals is the Build, Build, Build for Education Bill which lays down a five-year plan to accelerate infrastructure development in Philippine state universities and colleges (SUCs). #
Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for a law that would officially recognize bicycles as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation throughout the country.
A biking and fitness enthusiast, Cayetano has filed the ‘National Bicycle Act of 2019,’ which shall mandate the development of policies, infrastructure, and facilities to properly integrate bicycles as part of the public transportation system.
“It is time to change our mindset about traffic and find alternative means to move forward from this perennial problem,” Cayetano said of the yet unnumbered bill, which she filed among her second batch of measures for the 18thCongress.
The returning senator said cycling not only offers an efficient means of mobility amid the daily traffic gridlock, but is also an affordable, environment-friendly, and healthy alternative to motor vehicles.
“We should do away with the old thinking that cars are for the rich and bikes are for the poor. Increasingly, we see more people coming to work on two wheels, young and old, from vendors to workers, professionals, and even executives,” the senator observed.
“Many startups are also switching to using bicycles, like courier and food delivery services. Biking is not just a means of leisure or past time, it has become a way of life for many Filipinos,” she added.
Cayetano herself regularly uses a bike to visit and interact more directly with residents in urban communities and to reach far-flung towns and mountain villages in the provinces. She also joins triathlons and bike festivals that highlight local sports and eco-tourism. During the last electoral campaign, cycling groups joined the former Taguig City representative to promote her candidacy and advocacies through her ‘bicycle-cades.’
The senator admitted that the major downside remains safety. “News and social media posts regularly report about bikers being sideswiped or ran over by undisciplined drivers of motor vehicles. And so this is one reason why we need to enact a national policy to ensure the protection of bikers,” she stressed.
Under her bill, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in coordination with local government units shall take the lead in designating bicycle lanes, which shall serve as exclusive passage for cyclists. Motor vehicles will be prohibited from being driven or parked on any bike lane.
The bike lanes shall be separated by a physical barrier, whenever possible, and shall be clearly identified with signs or pavement markings. In cases where installation of a physical barrier is not feasible, the lane for bicycles shall be identified through reflectorized painted lines.
Bike promotion measures also include improvements on sidewalks, traffic calming and speed reduction, pedestrian and bicycle crossing, traffic signages covering bicycles, off-street pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and traffic diversion, among others.
Cayetano’s bill mandates all public places, government offices, schools, major business establishments, including malls, banks, restaurants, hospitals, and the like, to provide adequate racks for bike parking and other infrastructure as far as practicable.
Meanwhile, the private sector will be encouraged to develop counterpart infrastructure, facilities and programs to help promote biking.
Aside from the Bicycle Act, Cayetano has also filed complementary measures, namely the Sustainable Transportation Act (SBN 65) and the Sustainable Cities and Communities Act (SBN 66). #
House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano is open to amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, on the condition that alternative methods of intervention, other than criminal penalty, would be considered in holding child offenders accountable.
Cayetano made the statement during an event at the Batangas State University – Lipa Campus on Thursday, where she was asked about her stand on proposals to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) in the country, which is currently 15 years old. A staunch advocate of the Filipino family and children’s welfare, the congresswoman responded by saying she supports calls to amend the 2006 measure, stressing that the gaps in the existing law has become a “fundamental problem” that needs to be addressed.
“I have a fundamental problem with the law. Kaya open ako sa amendment. The problem with things now is that a lot of criminal syndicates are taking advantage of young children. Ang problema doon sa current na batas natin, may nakalagay doon na ‘pag nalaman na iyong batang iyon is under 15 years old, kailangan ibalik siya kaagad sa parents,” Cayetano cited.
The Taguig representative said a comprehensive policy should be implemented by the government to prevent criminal syndicates from taking advantage of such gaps in the law and exploiting young children to mobilize their criminal activities. Cayetano said more should be done to protect the youth from a life of crime, other than just lowering the MACR to nine years old or 12 years old.
She said the focus should be on ensuring that every child receives the proper support and guidance s/he can get from a “loving family.” “It’s not just a matter of 12 years old, 15 years old. It’s a matter of what kind of support every child has, such that they can grow up knowing what is right and what is wrong. If you do wrong, may kaparusahan, but it doesn’t have to be a criminal penalty,” she noted.
The congresswoman, who was the principal author and sponsor of the Foster Care Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10165), said key factors affecting a child’s growth, including family life and home environment, should first be considered before determining which interventions are most effective in dealing with children in conflict with the law.
“In the first place, iyong mga batang nagagamit ng mga sindikato, my question is, ano kaya ang family life nila? May parents ba siya na nagmamahal sa kanya, na nagtuturo sa kanya ng right or wrong? There’s a big chance na may problem doon sa family. We have to understand these fundamental issues that affect children so we can decide what is the best kind of intervention for them. That is, to me, the bigger problem,” Cayetano concluded.#
Photo: Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano with officials, faculty and students of Batangas State university (Lipa City campus)