Street kids not aware of curfew

UNLIKE most kids her age, Ana (real name withheld) spends her nights begging from passersby for spare change and food.

During the day, the 14-year-old sells candles along Osmeña Blvd. and begs for food at night.

While the Cebu City Government has implemented the strict enforcement of the curfew ordinance since last August, Ana said she is not aware of this.

“I’ve always wandered at night, so I never thought that it was prohibited. I go around to ask for food. I mostly come here now because there are more passersby. I ask for food because sometimes when I go home, there’s none to eat,” she told Sun.Star Cebu in Cebuano.

Ana is one of many minors still roaming the city streets despite the implementation of a city curfew.

The City Council passed a resolution two months ago ordering the strict enforcement of City Ordinance 1786, or the curfew ordinance.

Authored by Councilor David Tumulak, the resolution urges the 80 barangays in the city to coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) to strengthen their efforts in maximizing security.

The ordinance prohibits minors from loitering outside their residences from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. the following day.

For the first offense, parents will have to pick up their children at the barangay hall, where they will sign an agreement that they won’t allow their children to wander at night.

Second offenders will have to attend a seminar, while third offenders will have to do mandatory community service.

Penalty

For the fourth offense, the City Government will charge parents or guardians with violating Republic Act 7610, or the Anti-Child Abuse Law.

However, the City will not impose any monetary penalty or imprison the parents.

In a previous report, Tumulak, chair on public order and safety, said the strict enforcement aims to avoid having minors involved in shooting incidents, which usually happen at night time and dawn and prevent them from being mistaken as a drug pusher or user.

However, fast forward to two months since the strict implementation, four minors have been arrested by PNP operatives while one sustained injuries, all in separate occasions.

All five minors were reportedly involved in illegal drugs and have fallen to the hands of authorities in separate buy-bust operations.

Guadalupe

The latest reported incident happened two weeks ago in Barangay Guadalupe, which injured a grade 10 student at the Ramon Duterte National High School who was an alleged drug lookout.

As this developed, efforts to verify the claims of witnesses who said the boy was innocent had been verified by the City Government. Results, however, are yet to be disclosed.

Tumulak, in an interview, admitted that while there are “holes” in the strict enforcement of the ordinance, it is imperative for each barangay to maximize their efforts in doing so.

“The safety and security of the minors in the city is not only the responsibility of the City Government, but all members of the community,” he said.

He urged the different community stakeholders, especially the minors themselves, to exert more effort in making sure everyone follows and practices the provisions of the ordinance.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to reach DSWS acting head Lea Japson, but got no response.

A Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 personnel, who asked not to be named, said that while it is DSWS who is directly involved with the matter, they are working with the City on securing child safety by augmenting the central office’s directives.

Like Tumulak, DSWD urged everyone to work together, saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.”

For Ana, while the streets at night have kept her stomach from growling, she admitted that it is no safe place for a child like her.

“I guess I’ll keep myself out of the streets now. After all, it’s for our own good. Better hungry than dead or imprisoned, right?” she asked.
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