Senator Richard J. Gordon on Wednesday called on the government to invest in the country’s youth to ensure a quality population and to address the growing number of children getting in conflict with the law.
Gordon said the government should allot funding for measures that would ensure that children would be educated and well-guided such as having truancy officers in every barangay; hiring more guidance counselors so that there would be at least one for every grade level; getting more social welfare officers; and implementing a feeding program in all public schools.
“Magastos ito pero ito ay investment para magkaroon tayo ng quality population. ‘Yung mga truancy officers, sisiguruhin nila na ang mga bata sa barangay nila ay pumapasok sa eskwela. Pagdating naman sa eskwela, dapat siguraduhin na may mga guidance counselors para magabayan ang mga bata. At dapat siguraduhin na may pagkain ang mga bata dahil isa yun sa mga dahilan kaya maraming mga batang hindi nakakapasok. ‘Yung social welfare officers, aalamin nila kung may problema ang mga bata sa bahay, kung meron, maaari silang kupkupin ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” the chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights said.
Gordon issued the statement in the wake of the gruesome murder of 16-year old Christine Lee Silawan in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu. Her body was found skinned and mutilated in a vacant lot last 11 March. She was stabbed several times on her neck and body, her skull was exposed and she was naked from the waist down.
“Nung kamakailan may pinatay sa Cebu. Ang pumatay 17-year old. Kaya dun sa aking bill, Senate Bill No. 2198, ang gusto ko ay holistic approach to strengthening our youth social welfare programs. Kung nasa eskwela ang mga bata, hindi ‘yan makakapag-isip na gumawa ng krimen. Their time will be better occupied,” he added.
Last Saturday, the Philippine National Police arrested the victim’s 17-year old former boyfriend for suspected involvement in the killing after he was found in a CCTV footage with the victim. He has since confessed that he killed his former girlfriend due to jealousy.
Meanwhile, Gordon slammed the “palakasan” system being practiced in Olongapo City’s Science High School.
“I have been hearing reports that most of the students in the Science High School come from well-to-do families. This is not really regretful in itself because they could all have passed the qualifying exams. But what makes this offensive is that I have been getting reports too that the principal is allegedly negotiable,” he said.
Gordon pointed out that the practice robs poor but deserving students of opportunities to get a good education and later on the opportunity to carve better lives for themselves.
“When I was in the Con-Con, I proposed to include a provision that says SUCs and Science high schools should give priority to indigent or poor but deserving students so they will be given an opportunity to get good education. Unfortunately, when the 1973 Constitution was ratified, the provision was not included,” he said.
“When my grandson, Nick, passed the entrance exam in Philippine Science High School and he asked me if he will enroll there, I told him, ‘I am proud of you for getting accepted. However, I would rather that you enroll in Xavier School. I don’t want you to deprive a poor but qualified student of a slot in Philippine Science when you have the means to enroll in another school,’” the senator said.
Gordon also expressed his pride in his other grandchildren who are all intelligent and student leaders. “The apples cannot really fall far from the tree,” Gordon said.