“ALARMING” was how the Cebu City Government’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) head Lea Japson described the continued proliferation of minors who abuse solvents.

In an interview, Japson said that although the City Government has been conducting seminars for the rescued “rugby boys” and their parents, the minors still end up on the streets.

“It’s really difficult because one of the factors that led to this problem is the parents. Their participation in our diversion seminars is really important,” she said.

Japson admitted that the City has yet to build a rehabilitation and holding facility for these minors.

At present, the available facilities the City Government has are intended for homeless minors, and children and minors in conflict with the law.

“There is already a plan to construct a holding area for them (rugby boys), but we are still looking for a location and for the source of funding,” Japson said.

For their part, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will continue with their rescue operations of street children but asked for cooperation from partner agencies.

CCPO Director Joel Doria said that social workers should accompany police officers during the rescue as they are handling minors.

“We are prohibited from bringing the children to the police station because that’s illegal detention and our policemen could be sued for that,” Doria said.

The city director said they have been conducting rescue operations but local government units have no place to hold the children.

“We pick them off the streets but where would we put them, where will they be taken care of?” Doria said.

Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman said that they have identified the places where the street children and rugby boys frequent.

“It’s high time that we had a place for them because no matter how many times we rescue them, they will still go back to the streets,” Ayuman said.

CCPO’s women and children’s protection desk (WCPD) often rescues street children accompanied by the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS). (RTF, JOB)