MANILA — Anne Curtis, whose social media following firmly places her as the top Filipino personality online, usually prefers to stay away from the divisive topic of politics — but she’s finally reached an exception.
In the wake of the House’s steps to lower the age of criminal liability, Curtis has been tweeting to her 11 million followers the stand of UNICEF-Philippines on the fiercely debated measure.
Curtis, 33, is an appointed celebrity advocate of the United Nations agency for children’s welfare, and has been actively involved in the organization’s work in the country.
“Nakakalungkot,” she wrote on Tuesday, in a rare expression of a personal stance on politics, attached with UNICEF-Philippines’ statement on the issue. “At that age, they are still very much children. They still have a chance to change their ways if they happen to cause or get into any trouble.”
At a press conference Wednesday for a vitamin brand she endorses, Curtis spoke at length about why she opposes the planned amendment to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.
“I think that’s such a young age,” she told ABS-CBN News. “These are people who are still learning, still finding out what’s right and wrong. If they happen to get into a position where they may have caused trouble, or they’re in trouble, they still deserve a chance to correct their ways. They deserve to have the protection from our government perhaps to help them correct their ways.”
The House justice committee initially approved lowering the age of criminal liability to 9 years old, from the current 15, on Monday. Then on Wednesday, through a House plenary vote, the controversial provision was changed from 9 to 12 years old.
At the time of Curtis’ press conference, the House had just approved the latter on the bill’s second reading.
Curtis said she has been reading up on provisions of the House panel proposal, including the mandatory confinement of child offenders in a reformation institution such as Bahay Pag-Asa, “but 9 years old is still a very young age to be to taken away from your family, or a proper guardian if your parents aren’t there or aren’t giving you the proper care and guidance.”
“At least they should be a given a proper guardian who they are comfortable with. That is my stand. So medyo nalulungkot ako, na ang bata ng 9 years old,” she added.
Under the proposed measure, if the child offender reaches 18 years old and has still not reformed given proper intervention, the convict will be mixed with common inmates.
Curtis, whose social media presence is a mix of fan interactions, film and TV projects, and glimpses of her personal life, said she felt it was her “social responsibility” to speak up on the issue involving children and criminal liability.
“On social media, as much as possible kasi, I like to stay away from politics, because every one has a say, and it’s not always right and it’s not always wrong,” she began.
“But being someone who works with children . . . I really do have a heart [for children]. I felt like this is something where I did have a social responsibility to share what I had to say,” Curtis said.
“Not every one will agree with me, and that’s okay,” she continued. “This is my opinion, and that’s how I feel about it. Every single opinion counts, right? We hope that it’s heard, how we feel as citizens about [current issues].”
Asked for her response to some fans lauding her as “brave,” in light of the tense political climate, Curtis said: “Thank you. These people are also very brave. I don’t stand alone naman kasi with speaking up about it. I think it’s just great that it creates more awareness about what’s happening.”