By Raymund Antonio
A police officer, who was a street child in Cebu City, could become the new face of Vice President Leni Robredo’s advocacy against the measure to lower the age of criminal liability.
Robredo expressed intention to get SPO4 Bill Felisan as part of her office’s advocacy for his inspiring real-life story that was featured during the second Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival.
“Actually kausap ko siya bago nagsimula iyong event. Sinabi ko na sa kaniya—na gusto namin siyang yayain sa adbokasiya,” Robredo, a former housing chief, said.
(Actually, I talked to him before the start of the event. I told him that we want to invite him to our advocacy.)
The short film “Modern Day Hero” tells the story of Felisan, who was a street child in the 1980s. At 13, he was apprehended for eating food left unattended at a stall.
He was turned over to Cebu City’s Community Scouts Youth Guidance Center, a facility where minors in conflict with the law are provided rehabilitation and could go to school.
Known as Kuya Bill, Felisan ended up as a policeman, who has advocated diversion programs to help transform youth offenders like him.
The Office of Vice President conferred a Special Recognition Award and gave P10,000 to “Modern Day Hero.” This film was directed by Roy Robert Rusiana, a graphic designer from Cebu.
Robredo said she hoped the short film would inspire people, and shed light on the cases of juvenile delinquents who deserve a second chance instead of punishing them.
“Kasi noong napanood ko iyong pelikula, iyong Modern Day Hero, ang naisip ko talaga, iyong kaniyang kuwento dapat mapanood ng maraming tao,” she said in a media interview.
(Because when I watched the film, the Modern Day Hero, it came to my mind that many people should see his story.)
“Siya iyong pinakamalaking halimbawa na kapag iyong mga bata hindi mo tini-treat na kriminal, tini-treat mo siya na biktima ng mga sirkumstansiya, natutulungan mong maging maayos iyong kaniyang kinabukasan,” she added.
(He is a huge example that if you don’t treat children as criminals and treat them as victims of circumstances, you help them to have a good future.)
The Vice President remains critical of the move to lower the age of criminal liability below 15 years old. She said children who are in conflict with the law should be given a chance at a new life instead of criminal punishment.