“And that question is: ”How old is 15, really?” No, that’s a good question. I’m not saying that a person is as smart as they’re gonna be at 15. That’s not what I’m saying, man. But I am saying, 15 to me… is old enough to decide… whether or not you want to be pissed on. That’s me. If you can’t make a decision like that by the time you’re 15… then just give up, motherfucker, because life is way harder than that” – Dave Chappelle from ‘For What it’s Worth’ (2004)
I know that Dave Chappelle isn’t a politician, but he is a comedian. But I had to start with him, as this here piece will be about age. Because suddenly now Senate President Sotto in the Philippines, wants to make the legal age for prosecution and able to answer for their crimes down to thirteen (13). As of today, it is already fifteen (15). Therefore, the legal age are already low and early to be able to serve time for possible crimes.
I want to ask the politician, if he could change the legal age for other things, as they should not only have possibility to fine, detain and prosecute the youth, but also other things. Because, why is it just the negative aspect and the positive aspect of life that is given to the thirteen year old. Since, if your opening the gates to make them liable, shouldn’t they be able to do more other things too, without concern of the state?
“MANILA — Alarmed by the rise in the number of crimes now being committed by minors, Senate President Vicente Sotto III is pushing for the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years old. In filing Senate Bill 2026, Sotto noted that criminal syndicates are exploiting the provisions of Republic Act 9344 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by using minors in the commission of crimes” (…) “In his explanatory note for Senate Bill 2026, Sotto said, “Due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times.” “This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who committed serious criminal offense,” Sotto said. He added that not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters were deliberately taken from them” (Philippines News Agency – ‘ Sotto wants to lower age of criminal liability to 13’ 25.09.2018 link: http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1049043).
With this Senate President Sotto, shouldn’t they be allowed to run for any public office in an election? Why cannot even a thirteen year old vote in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections? In the recent election the youngest ones to vote in the SK in 2018 was 15 years old. Therefore, they cannot elect anyone or be eligible to get public office. But behind bars is fine and dandy. They have to wait to be 18 to be a candidate for Municipal Councilor, 21 years to be a candidate either for ARMM Regional Assemblyman or Mayor/Vice Mayor of City. To get into House of Representatives, you have to be 25 years old or in the Senate being 35 years old. If you considering to run for the two highest offices you have to be 40 years old, this being Vice-President and President. Therefore, the youths of age thirteen can be criminal liable, but cannot ever consider to run for office, not even in their local SK Election.
That is why Sotto, should consider his approach, as he can criminalize these youths, but they have no initial power. While it coming to work, the DOLE Guidelines of 1st January 2018 of work for minors states: “Under Republic Act No. 9231, children below the age of 15 are not allowed to be employed in any public or private establishment except when they work directly under the sole responsibility of their parents or guardian or when their participation in public entertainment or public information is essential. In any of the exceptions, the employer, parent or guardian should first secure working child permit from DOLE before engaging the services of the child” (Philippines Information Agency – ‘DOLE issues new guidelines on employment of minors in public entertainment’ 09.11.2017 link: https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1001624).
The DOLE has such strict rules about a minor, which is a thirteen years old individual, as they cannot work without guardians approval or the DOLE too as well. Therefore, when they need this to work together with parents or their approval for work, why can the same individual be criminal liable? Shouldn’t it be automatic to be working too?
So, we have quickly figured out they cannot vote, not be eligible to elected or work unless DOLE gives them permit. Should they still be able to become outlaws and get a criminal record? Really?
Just to put it further to prove the dire need to question it, is that a person between 18 to 21 needs consent of marriage from either father, mother or legal guardian to be allowed to married in the Philippines. So a person, cannot without consent of their parents get married, but they can get legal ramifications for their actions? Have Sotto even thought of all of this?
That is why I am writing this, because it is natural as a youth, a teen starting life, not fully matured or even considering of the implications of your acts. Shouldn’t be able to do all adulting first, before you get cost of being grown. However, the Senate President thinks otherwise.
Therefore, Mr. Sotto, should you allow them to work, married or even be eligible to get elected into office? Since you propose them to be criminal liable. If they can get punished by the state, shouldn’t they get all the opportunities of the state as well. Peace.
“I’m just doing my job, even though we encounter critics — but if I need to make certain changes, I’ll do it.” – Mocha Uson
If you would think the Rodrigo Duterte administration ever would sway away from controversy, they have to continue to find ways to do so. Now, they are working and have worked on a new constitution that introduce federalism. This piece will not be about that, but about someone they plan to tap into promotion of that cause. That is Duterte using a Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux Mocha Uson to be a spokesperson for it, but how and what?
Does Uson even have the basic knowledge of what Federalism means compared to the democratic republic today and the constitutional democracy it is today, which simple definition is: “DEMOCRACY is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Constitutional democracy can be defined as a system of government in which there are clear limits of political authorities, and the electorate has the power to remove poor performing governments. Constitutional democracy is the type of democracy where powers of the majority are exercised within a frame work of the constitution designed to guarantee the majority right” (School Mattazz – ‘CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY: MEANING, TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS’).
While what she will promote is this: “Legal Definition of federalism: distribution of power in a federation between the central authority and the constituent units (as states) involving especially the allocation of significant lawmaking powers to those constituent units” (Merriam-Webster – Federalism, 21,07.2018 link: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/federalism).
I have a feeling the Assistant Secretary would have a hard time explaining the difference, only speaking the points that the administration delivers her. Her past is no good either, so I don’t understand how she will be speaking on behalf of the administration in this complex case and with the changes of the possible constitution.
Using Uson to campaign for federalism:
“Concom spokesman Ding Generoso told The STAR that Uson would be a big help in their campaign to promote federalism and for their proposed Constitution through her social media following. “I really wanted to tap her. If she can write and interview the Concom members about the proposed constitution and federalism, that would be a big help for our campaign,” Generoso said. “We will talk to her and see how she can help,” he added. Comparing his appearances on television interviews with that of Uson’s blog, Generoso said that he is getting fewer views than Uson, whose videos are reaching millions of netizens” (Robertzon Ramirez – ‘Concom to tap Mocha for pro-federalism campaign’ 29.07.2018, link:https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/29/1837706/concom-tap-mocha-pro-federalism-campaign#cey37RrlmvLZw56Q.99
Senate Defense of Appointment:
“For one, I hope that she will be a purveyor of truth, rather than propaganda; of responsibly gathered and vetted facts and news, rather than so-called “alternative facts” and fake news. She is no longer just a private blogger or social media personality; she is now a civil servant. For another, it matters, not just what she says, but also how she delivers it. I implore her to be more circumspect about her choice of words and way of saying them. I do not mean that she ought to use sophisticated words. In fact, I do encourage her to speak plainly. Plain but cleanly. Be aware that our children are listening to us. Our future generations are taking their cue from us on how to express and carry themselves. I hope that Ms. Uson will prove herself a model of dignity – the dignity of a woman, a public servant – for our people, especially the youth of today” (On the appointment of Mocha Uson as Asec. of the PCOO, Dispatch from Crame No. 85, 16.05.2017, link: http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2017/0516_delima4.asp).
PCOO allowed Uson to work in Casino, countering the law of public official:
“PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement that “Mocha asked permission to honor her entertainment contracts when she joined government.” However, while Uson is not prohibited from performing, Andanar added that she is advised to avoid such places. This comes after videos circulated on social media allegedly showing Uson performing with her girl group “Mocha Girls” at Bar 60 located at the ground floor of Resorts World Manila. Uson supposedly also has gigs at places like Punchline Comedy Bar and Cowboy Grill, aside from Resorts World Manila. Meanwhile, Resorts World Manila management said in a statement that it asks those who performs to comply with all government regulations. Memorandum Circular Number 6 states that “the mere entry or presence of government officials and employees in a gambling casino shall be considered as conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, unless the same was in the performance of official duties and functions.” (Reporter.ph – ‘PCOO probes the issue of Mocha Uson’s performance at a casino hotel’ 08.09.2017, link: http://reporter.ph/pcoo-probes-the-issue-of-mocha-usons-performance-at-a-casino-hotel/).
PCOO disown Uson’s blog:
“PRESIDENTIAL Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said Wednesday Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson’s blog was not an official page of the PCOO and was not representing government views. He cleared the PCOO from the controversies involving Uson’s weird and comical blogs. But he said Uson was not a source of fake news in the country as she was only expressing her views. He said the PCOO could not influence or control Uson since she was engaged in a personal activity. Should he order bloggers like Uson to stop airing their views, he would be accused of “suppressing freedom of expression.” He said when Uson became part of the PCOO, “I told her that all the news coming out from government media platforms are real news.” (Vito Barcelo – ‘PCOO disowns Mocha’s blogs’ 01.02.2018 link: http://thestandard.com.ph/news/top-stories/257655/pcoo-disowns-mocha-s-blogs.html).
Therefore, with all this mess of hers, the administration are still keeping her on board. That is just weird, because she is not that bright and misuse her public space. Not to inform, but keeping herself popular. That is evident, even as an appointed public official, she keeps peddling questionable articles, also even break codes of conduct like performing in a casino last year. That is why it is weird that she still has a place in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Duterte Administration.
That is just strange, for me awful idea to put her into the campaign, unless the Duterte Administration are going for squad goals and making sure they make scandalous headlines by her and her words? Is that what they need to be able to get the Constitutional Change or the Federalism enacted?
Do they need Mocha Uson, is she that unique and special that the President needs her skills and ability to create controversy to bring the game, set and go? Seriously? Is the change to federalism that lack-luster, that the Presidency see the need to bring her in? Is there nobody else that can campaign and bring the message out, not even demoted Alvarez?
Because we know she is not that wise, she has moved mountains and a volcano in the past. If she cannot even the basic geography of the Philippines, how can she explain and have the ability to grasp the difference between a constitutional democracy and federalism?
I have lack of faith, if she was like Maine Mendoza selling MAC products, I would get that, but she is trying to be spokesperson for a government, which plans to change of how the government works. That is not an easy task for anyone, but for someone like her. I lack faith, trust and ability to pull it off. Unless, she will push empty slogans and try to gain popularity because of her face. When it comes to a question like this, when it comes to the balances of power, the limits of the citizenship and what matters for all the branches of government, these questions are not a quick fix. However, a big question and need a lot of relief, this isn’t something changed in a day.
If the Duterte administration is serious and want people to believe in the change, maybe, just maybe, pull some better cards out of the stack. There got to be someone else with more craft and capacity to bring the message of federalism, than Uson. Peace.
Well, it is just me, but I am not surprised anymore, but the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo had first in 2016, under used funds, but in 2017, the same office cannot deliver the supporting documents in time. That is just weird, as this is the next-highest public office under the President. It isn’t merely public servants in a get-away and remote island dozens of miles away from Manila. No, this is one of the highest regarding places close to the Malacañang. Therefore, that this office is under scrutiny for their practices are not a good look.
“MANILA – The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged cash advances for local travels made by personnel of the office of Vice President Leni Robredo that were not liquidated within 30 days. In its annual audit report on the Office of the Vice President, the COA said traveling expenses of the agency amounted to P26.446 million for local travel and P953,550.75 for foreign trips in 2017. Delays in liquidation ranged from two days to 116 days” (Ayalin, 2018).
It is hard to believe that the OVP employees and secretaries, public officials in general are that lax with recites and with transactions papers, that they are losing it or forgetting to fill the forms for 116 days. They just don’t do that, unless it is deliberate. You don’t wait months upon months to deliver what your obligated to deliver. That is what you do in a public office and to prove your spending of the state coffers. That is all natural. Unless, you want to hide your spending and usage of the funds. Since using up to 116 to show where the money is spent is ruthless at best.
That VP Robredo should feel ashamed, she should, as her office is not following standard practice. Even if they might have cleared the accounts and the funds, that has been in question. Still, it opens up a huge level of doubts and possible misuse of state funds. Because, if the employees and the officials within the office are using so long to fill the forms and prove the spending. Than, in practice, it can go to mistresses, to pay for businesses or even perks beside the offices. Who knows right? They might spend it elsewhere and not on local travel as part of the job. Since the proof of that is coming months later and are later proven.
At this point, when the COA can find this maladministration and this lack of compliance with the codes of conduct as public servants/officials, you know there are underlying problems and somewhat something else beneath numbers. If there was even more to question, it should be digging into as well. Since these offices could be doing more with the funds they are getting. This is just the travel expenses and the advanced payouts, what about the salaries itself or the other perks as the high office it is?
That should be real question and since the COA is flagging it and the OVP says they have complied. Why should COA not have the proof of the real transactions, while the OVP trying to clean their hand of dirt? They have already not complied and not shown character, they are already proving lack of trust and lack of care for public funds. Peace.
Ayalin, Adrian – ‘COA flags delayed liquidation of OVP cash advances; Robredo’s office says amounts ‘fully liquidated’’ (29.06.2018) link: http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/29/18/coa-flags-delayed-liquidation-of-ovp-cash-advances-robredos-office-says-amounts-fully-liquidated