Editorial: Rescue and no redemption-A A +A
Sunday, September 2, 2012
THE smallest tab Cebuanos picked up for beautifying Cebu was for the cost of a “huge bowl of noodles” the Cebu City Police Office (CCCP) gave 19 “rugby boys” they “rescued for safekeeping” in the evening of Thursday, Aug. 30, and released the morning after.
Aged seven to 14 years, the youths were caught roaming along Colon St. and around Fuente Osmeña, reported Jill B. Tatoy in Sun.Star Cebu’s Sept. 1 issue. “Rugby boys” is the term given to minors addicted to chemically induced highs induced by inhaling glue. Some of the apprehended youths still had bits of glue rimming their nostrils and were observed to be visibly high.
Police said the street-sweeping operation was conducted in response to several complaints that the rugby boys roaming around the uptown area were harassing and snatching from pedestrians.
They were released because being minors, the Juvenile Justice Law prohibits their arrest and filing of charges. The Department of Social Welfare and Development says the youths’ parents are responsible for them. An official admitted that the parents also need help.
Perhaps the law, for once, can be excused from blame. The Juvenile Justice Law may have enough yawning gaps to let through a horde of criminal elephants.
However, in last Aug. 30’s safekeeping rescue, preventing criminality seemed to be not the object. One may call that operation sweeping dirt under the rug, silencing the critics or keeping the problem at bay with a bowl of noodles.
At least, the police operation kept tourists and residents free to roam without stress the uptown areas from Thursday night to Friday morning. If one is in the habit of jogging, buying hot bread to go with the morning ritual of reading the papers, or performing T’ai chi at Cebu City’s historic oval, Fuente Osmeña, had a clean bill for a few hours, thanks to the CCPO’s rescue of the rugby boys.
It can be inconvenient to pose for a souvenir shot in Fuente Osmeña or stroll along the renovated sidewalks leading to the Capitol building with a rugby-sniffing urchin hanging on to your purse or eyeing wolfishly your $1,779-Sony XA10 professional camcorder.
The only problem to solving street addiction and underaged criminality with a bowl of noodles is that the problem tends to come back, rather inconveniently like trash we dump helter-skelter in our waterways and receive back, still helter-skelter, in flash floods.
So the P13-million privately funded facelift of the Fuente Osmeña Circle can’t ever eliminate scene-stealing scab-covered youths with rugby snot in their noses and hunger pangs in their belly.
We can only wish the best for our overburdened law enforcers who, after last Aug. 30’s safekeeping mission, vowed to go after the suppliers selling rugby to the boys. Uptown or downtown, there arehundreds of hardware stores, Do-It-Yourself shops and other retailers selling this adhesive chemical, which has a wide range of uses, from cementing joints to liquefying brains.
Or, since police intelligence has established that rugby boys buy a spoonful of rugby for P5 to stave off hunger, undercover cops can round up the usual suspects with the dirtiest, gunk-coated spoons proliferating in the underworld.
Last August 2011, the Cebu City Council scrutinized the “bloated” budget to fight drugs.
According to Jujemay G. Awit’s Nov. 22, 2011 report in Sun.Star Cebu, the City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) had initially asked for P3.1 million for 2012.
Cosap chairman Joey Herrera said he was ordered to come up with a P10-million program, but he only managed to craft a proposal asking for over P7 million. The P12-million final budget proposed was later explained as incorporating Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s own anti-drug program.
According to the Sept. 1 Sun.Star Cebu report, CCPO’s City Intelligence Branch Chief Romeo Santander said they are still waiting for City Hall’s response to their request to house rugby boys in a facility for rehabilitation.
If the enforcers have consulted medical and mental health professionals, rehab for dependents of huffing is more complicated than keeping addicts under a 24-hour watch.
According to teenhelp.com, huffing is the process of inhaling chemical vapors through the nose or mouth. The ease of procuring the chemical inhalants—common household products, such as volatile solvents (such as glues and rubber cements), gases, aerosols and nitrites—is matched by the severity of the damages caused on the user and the difficulty of treatment.
Hallucinations, loss of inhibitions and impaired judgment are among the short-term effects of huffing. Regular use damages the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.
The same website advises long-term care and close supervision of medical and mental health professionals since huffing dependents suffer withdrawal symptoms for weeks.
Relapse is common.
City Hall must surely be willing to part with some of those anti-drug funds for rugby boys. As connoisseurs of beauty, our officials should realize the logic of taking care our future generations don’t distract from any facelift, no matter how expensive, our beautiful city will undergo.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 03, 2012.