TWENTY minors allegedly sniffing rugby, an aromatic solvent, have been rescued by operatives of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) since Friday, Aug. 2, 2019.
CCPO personnel led by Col. Gemma Vinluan also arrested a 21-year-old man. They also filed cases against two stores that allegedly sold rugby to the children.
Police officers assigned in the city’s 11 stations conducted simultaneous rescues of street children in their respective jurisdictions.
Of the 11 police stations, the Talamban and Mabolo stations had the most number of kids rescued.
Both stations rounded up 15 children at the Asiatown IT Park in Barangay Lahug and at the bridge near the Gaisano Country Mall in Barangay Banilad.
Meanwhile, operatives of the Labangon Police Station arrested Dorico Cahulogan, a resident of Warwick Barracks in Barangay Ermita, after he was caught selling rugby to street children.
Two stores selling solvent were also charged in court with violating Presidential Decree 1619, which penalizes anyone selling volatile substances to minors.
The stores were also charged with violating Republic Act 7610, or the Anti-Child Abuse Law.
Vinluan told reporters she ordered her stations to focus on getting the children off the streets to protect them from harm.
She also urged her personnel to charge anyone caught selling the glue solvent to children.
“Makakaumay itong mga walang konsensya na ‘to na ang mga bata natin ay ina-abuso, tini-take advantage nila yung vulnerability ng mga bata to the point na pati pagiisip nga mga bata ay sirain dahil lang sa pagbebenta ng rugby (I am fed up with this people who have no conscience to use kids and abuse them. They are taking advantage of the child’s vulnerability to the point that they would destroy their minds by selling rugby to them),” Vinluan said.
The operation was also part of the campaign of Mayor Edgardo Labella to clear the streets of homeless children.
Vinluan said their next target will be those living on sidewalks.
Two years ago, the City Government’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) became alarmed with the growing proliferation of minors who abused solvents.
Then DSWS head and current Cebu City Councilor Lea Japson admitted that despite efforts of the police to rescue “rugby boys” from the streets, the DSWS couldn’t house them since the City had yet to build a rehabilitation and holding facilty for minors involved in solvent abuse.
At present, the City Government has facilities to house homeless minors and children in conflict with the law. (FROM AYB OF SUPERBALITA CEBU/ JKV)