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Street kids get educated on their rights

MANILA, Dec. 19, 2014 — Over 20 street children who sleep on scraps of karton (paperboard) and in kariton (carts) in a park in Manila received on Dec. 17, not just Christmas gift packs from child rights advocates, but also an orientation on their
rights.

“With their condition in the streets, they are extremely exposed to all possible abuse,” said Sr. Adel Abamo (SDS), Salvatorian Pastoral Care for Children (SPCC) executive director.

Sr. Adel Abamo (SDS), Salvatorian Pastoral Care for Children (SPCC) plays with street children in Plaza Lawton. (Photo: SPCC)

Kinds of abuse

The Salvatorians and volunteers, Elli and Franzi from Germany and Austria, taught the children, who wander aimlessly in Plaza Lawton near the city’s central terminal day and night, about their inviolable rights.

According to Abamo, all kinds of abuse committed against children were enumerated to them one by one. They were also warned to immediately flee the moment they sense danger.

The mothers were also made aware of the rights of their children, the sister said.

“We have reminded them to take good care of their kids and protect their rights and welfare from any violation, especially that they are too vulnerable with the situation in the streets,” Abamo said.

The children and their parents were informed about where they may seek assistance in case of abuse.

Relocating families

Some of the homeless families who stay in Lawton are Badjaos, Abamo noted.

As a more long-term solution, SPCC will facilitate relocation of the families of street children in Lawton through referrals if they are willing to return to their province.

SPCC will be tapping other non-government organizations, individuals, as well as government agencies.

“They can have a simple, but peaceful life in the province where they came from,” Abamo said.

The social welfare should pursue and strengthen the goal of zero street children in all areas, particularly Metro Manila, she said.

By addressing the roots of poverty, the government can reduce the number of street children and homeless families, Abamo said. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)

Priest: Justice system reform needed, not death penalty

MANILA, Dec. 19, 2014—Amid the heated talk on the revival of the death sentence, a Catholic priest reiterates the Church’s stand on the controversial topic, saying it is more important to reform the whole criminal justice system.

While admitting that killing hardened criminals is a tempting prospect, Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’ Episcopal Commision on Public Affairs (ECPA), stressed capital punishment is no guarantee that crimes will not be committed anymore in the future.

Fr. Jerome Secillano (in white) represented the Church at a Senate committee hearing on the reinstatement of the death penalty on Dec. 16, 2014. (Photo: Zeigfred R. Samarista)

“Crime prevention is not about killing criminals, it’s about having an effective police force that will protect the citizenry and apprehend those who would inflict harm on the same; it’s about having uncorrupt court personnel who will punish the guilty and set the innocent free and not the other way around because of money; and it’s all about having a disciplined Bureau of Corrections that is committed to reforming those imprisoned and not to babysitting them!” he shared.

According to the priest, who represented the Church in a Senate hearing on the revival of the death penalty Thursday, Dec. 18, the reformatory institute is only one part of the whole criminal justice system that must be reformed and made effective and efficient, including law enforcement, justice and correction management

Much as he would like to agree with proponents of capital punishment, Secillano expresses doubts that killing a particular criminal or drug lord will stop the proliferation of drugs.

“For as long as there are corrupt personnel in the government, even the conviction of criminals for the penalty of death may not even happen after all,” he explained.

The priest pointed out the Church is not looking for a perfect single solution to deter crimes, but only wants different State institutions to perform their duties according to their mandate.

“When I call on the different institutions to do their tasks responsibly, effectively and efficiently, it’s a challenge to be actively engaged in preventing crimes. The call for death penalty is one of passivity because it allows crime to be committed. Death penalty is imposed after the fact (crime),” he said.

According to Secillano, the death penalty is “merely a band-aid solution”, stressing the need to challenge law enforcers and others in government who are tasked to protect the public.

“Remember, an ounce of prevention is probably much better than a ‘band-aid cure,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)