Editorial: From counterflow to curfew

CONSIDER City Ordinance 1786, the curfew ordinance, as among the many ordinances in Cebu City that are being violated more than observed mainly because authorities no longer bother to strictly implement them. There are, for example, those measures against littering, jaywalking, and smoking inside jeepneys.

The curfew ordinance’s implementation is in reality an off-and-on thing, like the other ordinances mentioned. Meaning that it is dependent on the mood of city government officials. Cebuanos have a colorful phrase for that sudden surge of aggressiveness to implement the measure: “Nakahikap og iti.”

Mayor Tomas Osmeña, prompted by reports of children in an urban barangay being recruited by gangs, recently ordered barangay officials, through their tanods, to strictly implement the curfew ordinance. The penalty for non-compliance is the withholding of the tanods’ monthly P4,000 allowance from City Hall.

The curfew ordinance, though, is not like the curfew imposition during the martial law years when violators were arrested and then brought to the stockade. Because the violators are minors, the penalties are lenient, with the “harshest” being mandatory community service for the third offense. Parents are involved in the first offense, which should be the case because disciplining the children is the primarily responsibility of parents.

The mayor’s order, though, looks more like a knee-jerk reaction to what could be an isolated incident. But at least this is unlike his order for traffic enforcers to go after drivers who counterflow in traffic where the proposed penalty is not commensurate to the violation (impounding vehicles for 30 days?).

Were the gang leaders able to recruit the minors because curfew wasn’t imposed? Or isn’t it that the recruitment was done in daytime? Those questions need to be answered and more information gathered so a better response could be had. In a way, Association of Barangay Councils president Philip Zafra’s reaction about the need for a collaborative effort among stakeholders is more objective.

How can a problem be solved when the solution proposed is meant for another type of problem?
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