Youth offenders ‘tend to steal, rob’

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Sunday, August 24, 2014


A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy is the youngest person the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) has rescued so far this year, while the police try to deal with a rising number of children and teenagers who violate the law.

Jojo (not his real name) allegedly mauled a nine-year-old cousin last May, based on records of the Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD). He could not be charged with physical injuries because of his age, and was released instead to his parents.

From January to July this year, the WCPD listed 129 incidents involving minors, or an average of 18 incidents every month. This was higher than the 118 cases logged in the same months last year.

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Theft and robbery were the most common cases, at 93, followed by physical injuries, with 12 cases. There were also five cases of rape allegedly committed by minors this year; five minors were caught using drugs; and four others for malicious mischief.

Other crimes committed by minors this year were estafa, acts of lasciviousness and rugby-sniffing.

The preferred term for those 17 or younger who
violate the law is “children in conflict with the law” and not all of them are street children, said WCPD Chief Areiza Otida.

The police stations in Carbon, Waterfront and Fuente rescued the most number of minor offenders, Cebu City’s police records also showed.

Most, least

From January this year, the Carbon police rescued 22 minors who violated the law; so did the Waterfront police. At least 20 incidents were recorded by Fuente police; 19 cases by Guadalupe police; and 15 cases by Mabolo police.

The stations with the fewest recorded cases of children in conflict with the law were Talamban (five cases); Pardo (seven cases; Mambaling (three cases); and San Nicolas and Parian (one case each).

Just last Wednesday dawn, two minors were caught by the Fuente police roaming around Gen. Maxilom Ave.

Fuente Police Station Chief Wildemar Tiu said that the police saw the two minors, Joshua, 15, and Ronald, 14, (not their real names) along with female prostitutes in the area.
“Duda nako basin mamugaw ni sila (They could be pimps),” said Tiu.

Ronald and Joshua are cousins.

In an interview, Ronald said they were just about to go clubbing and had nothing to do with the alleged prostitutes.

Service

Ronald, who lives in Barangay T. Padilla and is the third of nine children, said that his parents seldom looked for him.

“Panagsa ra man ko nila pangitaon. Unya mouli ra man pud hinuon ko (They rarely look for me, but I go home regularly),” Ronald told Sun.Star Cebu.

The high school student is also the son of a T. Padilla barangay tanod.

The two boys were endorsed to Barangay T. Padilla and later turned over to Ronald’s parents.

In another case involving a minor this week, John, 14, was released by the police and sent to Barangay Sambag 1, after he was apprehended last Friday for allegedly bringing a firearm inside a university.

Tiu said that because John still has parents, the police had to refer him to his barangay.

He was made to sign an agreement with Tiu and a Barangay Sambag 1 official that he will render community service every day from 9 a.m. to noon.

“It will depend on the barangay’s assessment, how long he will (have to) do community work,” said Tiu.

Attention

Otida lamented that most of the minors they rescued lacked parental attention.

Out of the 129 cases involving minors this year, 12 ended up in court after officials certified that the minors had acted with discernment.

About 20 minors were turned over to their parents; 19 are still being investigated; while 39 others were referred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). One was turned over to the Community Scouts.

Senior Insp. Michael Bastes, former Fuente police chief, said he noticed that minor offenders keep getting into trouble.

“Wala ta’y mabuhat kung dili pagawson lagi kay minor (We have no choice but to let them go because their minors),” said Bastes.

To try to address the problem, he decided to gather the minors in his area who were often in trouble, then fed them, dressed them and sent them to school.

“After I did that, I had fewer problems with minor offenders,” said Bastes.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2014.

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