Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is back in the Philippines for her homecoming celebration, and she recently gave her thoughts regarding House Bill 8858, which would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.
In an interview with GMA News, Catriona said, "I would rather that the efforts be refocused to why those children may be committing those crimes. Because working with kids, you know that when they're that young—when they're 11, 12, or nine years old—they're not developed in that way, cognitively, to make decisions knowing full well the consequences."
She added, "So I would rather address the focus to what can we do to get the children out of those circumstances that they may be pressured in that way to do something."
In another interview with TV5, Catriona reiterated, "We can do that by doing a study or seeing the children and asking them or accessing that community, educating that community—the parents of the children. And I feel that would be a better long-term solution. Because once you label a child such...as a child in conflict with the law, how will you bring them up to see themselves or the community to see them?"
One of Catriona's advocacies is working with children in impoverished areas and advancing their welfare even before she joined the Miss Universe pageant. Numerous groups and individuals have also opposed the bill, including celebrities such as Anne Curtis and Miss Intercontinental 2018 Karen Gallman.
Malacañang's response? Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Catriona may have been misinformed about the bill, and that she shouldn't be swayed by critics of the current administration.
According to him, "Yung sinasabi niya [Catriona] na focus on the problems, kasama yun e. When you lower the criminal liability, kasama yun...Sa batas nakalagay doon yung rehabilitation. Ang focus nga rehabilitation, e. So you are solving precisely the problem why these people are engaged in crimes."
"Miss Universe, hindi naman ikukulong. Ire-rehabilitate nga natin. Kaya tama ka doon, let's focus on the problem. We are precisely focusing on the problem. Because the problem is they're engaged in crimes," he added. "So what will we do? We will have to rehabilitate them. Learn why they have committed these crimes, and then put them back to society."
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