THE Operation Second Chance (OSC) Center in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City is a temporary home for children in conflict with the law (CICL), who would otherwise be languishing in the Cebu City Jail with their adult counterparts.
Although the facility may not have the atmosphere of a prison, it is still designed to hold CICL, who are detained for various offenses.
It has rules that the juvenile offenders have to follow.
When Ambrocio Ibones assumed his post as head of the OSC, he discovered that his predecessor was lax in enforcing these rules.
The CICL were using cellular phones. Some were smoking and selling cigarettes. Others had their lovers stay the night. All of these were supposed to be prohibited.
Ibones said a cigarette stick inside the center used to cost P200.
He decided to replace employees who allowed these practices and imposed a crackdown.
That might have been the reason 30 CICL tried to flee from the facility last Friday night, Oct. 4, 2019, he said. Eleven managed to escape, but six returned in the following days.
As of press time, five CICL are still at large.
Ibones said he also launched an investigation to look into the allegations of the returnees that they were physically abused inside the center. The children, though, refused to say who were responsible for their abuse.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, too, wants to get to the bottom of things.
“I will look into that kay naa man kahay (because there’s an allegation of) maltreatment. We have more reason to look into that and let the heavens fall. Maybe they are responsible. Dili mahimo na (That is unacceptable). That’s child abuse,” Labella said, adding that he plans to talk to the six minor delinquents.
Ibones said they are coordinating with the parents of the five CICL to facilitate their safe return to the center.
The mayor reminded the parents that their children risked facing additional charges if they refused to go back.
The OSC Center, which is run by the Cebu City Government with the help of private donors, is currently home to 74 CICL. (From PAC of SuperBalita, PJB)