MANDAUE City businessmen expressed willingness to assist the City’s anti-crime activities, as the mayor promised them incentives in return like fast-tracking City Hall transactions and no tax increases.

“There will be no increase in taxes, but we will intensify tax collection,” Mayor Jonas Cortes told business leaders and their members during his weekly press conference.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The mayor welcomed the businessmen’s volunteerism, as he believed that community involvement in the fight against crime is the best tool.

The mayor also cannot yet impose curfew on minors as the question on the legality of arresting and detaining them has to be resolved first.

“Is it legal, is it allowed by law?” said Cortes, who already requested the City Council to pursue the matter.

Resolution

Cortes’s inquiry comes as a resolution was passed yesterday in support of the curfew that the Cebu Provincial Board (PB) wants imposed in towns and component cities.

PB Member Sun Shimura passed the resolution urging local government units to pass ordinances imposing a curfew on minors.

Also, the Cebu Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on Criminality wants a provision of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 amended, while also supporting the move to impose a curfew in Cebu.

The newly created task force officially met for the first time yesterday at the Cebu Provincial Capitol.

It was a closed-door meeting but Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla relayed the order of business to reporters after it was adjourned.

Repeal

Martinquilla said the group passed two resolutions in mass motion.

One was to seek the repeal of the provision under the Juvenile Justice Law that minors 15 years old and below should be exempted from criminal liability.

The group wants to go back to the Revised Penal Code where criminal exemption was limited to children nine years old and younger.

“The body has found out that the said provision of the juvenile justice system has wreaked havoc on our peace and order. The kids are being used by old criminals because they cannot be jailed,” said Martinquilla.

The resolution will be addressed to Congress.

Task force chairperson Gov. Gwen-dolyn Garcia also said the members of the task force divided themselves into groups because the task force has five divisions: enforcement and investigation, prosecution and legal division, rewards and incentives division, public relations division and special projects and programs division.

Meanwhile, heads of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and their members attended the recent press conference jointly sponsored by Mandaue City and an alliance of reporters from Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities.

Police work

During the press conference, the businessmen were told about intelligence information from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 that criminals from other areas are now in Metro Cebu to stage robberies,

“Igo ra mi mo-assist sa police (We will just assist the police),” said Antonio Dy, the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce Mandaue chapter president.

They are willing to share their vehicles to ferry barangay tanods or policemen to the crime scene or conduct regular patrols using their own fuel.

Dy also floated the idea of having some chamber members as deputized peace officers.

Eric Mendoza, president of the MCCI, agrees with Dy and suggests a more active role.

He said they may assist barangay tanods in the “containment” of suspects while waiting for policemen to arrive.

Mendoza said they also have their own volunteers for the job.

“Well-accepted suggestion,” said Cortes as he promised to come up with guidelines in enlisting businessmen in their fight against crime.

With this assurance from the business sector, the mayor assured fast processing of permits in City Hall.

“Streamlining the process,” as what he calls it. Instead of a “one-stop-shop” where all signatories are in one office, the mayor promises to impose a “non-stop shop” practice where one expects a result at the end of the day.

He said processing of permits is to be non-stop until it is done.