Editorial: Of rugby boys and girls-A A +A
Sunday, September 9, 2012
HOW do we solve the problems that start with a P5-spoonful of rugby?
Last Sept. 2, operatives of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) arrested the parties who allegedly sold the glue whose addicting fumes were inhaled or “huffed” by the 19 “rugby boys” the CCPO “rescued for safekeeping” last Aug. 30.
According to Jill B. Tatoy’s Sept. 3 article in Sun.Star Cebu, the cops conducted a buy-bust operation in Barangay Ermita, which led to the arrest of the suspects: Ana, 13, and May, 17.
The minors were reportedly turned over to the Cebu City Women’s Desk Division.
Yet, due to the Juvenile Justice Law that exempts the under-aged from any criminal liability, the suspects may have to be released, lamented the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) Chief Romeo Santander. After they were “rescued” on Thursday evening, the rugby boys—the youngest aged seven and the eldest aged 14 years—were also freed on Saturday morning, Sept. 1.
Santander said they may have to study the issue and submit to the Cebu City Council a proposal that will rehabilitate the minors and not just release them back to the streets, reported Sun.Star Cebu.
What will the CCPO proposal cover?
Minors are not just exploited in street deals on rugby but in virtually all illegal activities, from peddling restricted drugs to commercial sex. Ana and May told the CIB operatives that they were merely following orders in their street trade, which involved repacking a P48 bottle of rugby into P5 packets containing a spoonful of rugby to turn in a neat profit of about P400.
Since the Juvenile Justice Law took effect for the past six years, there is enough official data substantiating the increase of crimes involving minors. Police intelligence has established that the brains exploiting the minors are crime syndicates and adults, even their parents.
What are the police doing about this problem?
Based on the comprehensive inhalant prevention campaign proposed by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (www.inhalants.org), rugby addiction or huffing is not just a police matter.
Inhalants are “gateway” drugs because studies show that these substances are the easiest and the cheapest to get hold of, even for children. Since the damage is life-long on the user and by implication, long-term for society, there is a need for multi-stakeholdership to address the context and roots of the problem.
According to the study of Dr. Neil Rosenberg and Dr. Charles Sharp posted in www.inhalants.org, the most severe form of inhalant addiction is exhibited by the chronic isolate. More than five years of use and daily inhalation of the fumes lead to brain damage and poor social skills. The use then of the moniker “rugby boys” is misleading because their dependency makes them veterans and likely candidates of intellectual, emotional and social disability.
In the recent cases involving the rugby boys who were “rescued” for huffing the glue and the rugby girls caught for selling the solvent, the resolution was to release them back to the streets. This is what it amounts to even though officials say they are released to their parents, with the barangays informed about their cases.
Every social worker and barangay official is familiar with the roots of youth delinquency: dysfunctional parents, families that are the origins of abuse.
“Disruptive family structures are almost always found in studies of chronic inhalant abusers,” posts www.inhalants.org.
Even though they know these youths will end up on the streets, dead or harassing citizens, why is there no official action taken to end the official hypocrisy and buck-passing?
Should we still expect a more intelligent response to solve the problem to come from the Cebu City Government, the City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, CCPO, the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7 and the officials of Barangays Ermita, Lopez and Pasil, where the minors involved in selling and huffing rugby live?
By mouthing only platitudes they don’t even believe in, officials are abetting the efficient street recycling of minors as dependents, perpetrators and victims.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 10, 2012.