IMPOSING a curfew on minors seems like a great idea at first glance. After all, we effectively keep the kids at home at night under lock and key and we actually have a legal reason to do so. But really, is this the answer to the unabated criminality in our communities?
Have we firmly established the fact that majority of the crimes are committed by minors and in the cover of darkness? Crime happens—in daylight or in darkness. And the reality is that they are perpetrated by minors and non-minors alike.
The only reason why we are zeroing in on the minors in our communities is our frustration with Kiko Pangilinan’s Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. Pangilinan’s landmark legislation decriminalizes the actions of minors who come in conflict with the law. In more blunt terms, this law mandates that minors who commit crimes cannot be thrown into jail.
While Pangilinan’s intentions might have been noble, the reality is that not all minors are sinless and starry-eyed. Some are destructive and diabolical. Times have changed. Fifteen-year-olds can steal, rape and kill. Criminal minds do not just reside in adult minds.
Crime syndicates have also been quick to take advantage of Pangilinan’s legislation. They are now making use of minors to commit their dastardly acts. So while decriminalizing the criminal offenses of minors was intended to protect them, it is now actually encouraging criminals to start young.
The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act may have its merits but it’s sadly making our country a training ground for criminal minds and thugs. It seemed like a good idea at the outset, but in the end, it didn’t really turn out to be the best response to the problem at hand.
I predict that a curfew ordinance will suffer the same fate. On a personal level, I love the idea of all minors tucked safely at home at night, under the watchful guidance of their parents and guardians. But must we do this with a curfew ordinance?
Are our law enforcers and peace-keeping forces completely impotent against the raging criminality in our communities that we must resort to a law that keeps minors off the streets to protect them? Are we in a state of such lawlessness? Are we in a state of war or dictatorship that necessitates the imposition of a curfew to control the movements of the minors in our communities?
What message do we send the world with this? That our communities are so unsafe we need to keep our minors home at night? Or why else would we need a curfew if our communities were safe? A curfew is meant to be a temporary measure to protect its citizens in times of war. We are not in a state of war. Or are we?
The imposition of a curfew implies a renunciation of all other methods to curb crime and protect citizens. A curfew ordinance in times of peace seems like a desperate measure. And how does government propose to enforce this law? Don’t you think the energies of our limited police force might be better spent trying to prevent crime than trying to catch curfew violators?
The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act was well-intentioned but not well-thought. Let the proposed curfew ordinance not suffer the same fate.