THE City Government of Cagayan de Oro issued a stern warning to hardware store owners in the city caught selling solvents to minors.

City Administrator Teddy Sabuga-a said they have tapped the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce to help them warn stores against selling solvents to minors, many of whom end up sniffing the solvent to get high.

Sabuga-a said they were alarmed when a personnel of Solomon Hardware in Osmena Street this city, was seen through a closed-circuit television (CCTV) handing the solvent to a minor.

"The solvent was already wrapped in a newspaper, ready to give it to customers who are buying, and wrapped in a way that can easily be sniffed, it's as if the minors are their regular customers," he said.

Sabuga-a, who also heads the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWD) said they have summoned the owner of the hardware adding the city government is willing to press charges if they refuse to stop selling the solvent to minors.

He said aside from pressing charges, they are also considering ordering the closure of the store or not renewing its business permit.

"Our actions will be swift, it's in the legal office. This is to put emphasis that we are really serious in our campaign to make Cagayan de Oro free of solvent-sniffing kids," Sabuga-a said.

"We call on these store owners to stop entertaining minors, we call on them to be our partners in helping these children rebuild their future," he added.

The warning came after joint operations of the city and police rescued anew 8 minors and 7 adults in the city streets on Tuesday night.

The minors are temporarily sheltered at Mother Theresa and at Tahanan ng mga Kabataan.

Unlike previous rescue operations, Sabuga-a said this time they will press charges to adults who are there at the time of the rescue operations. He said the adults violated Presidential Decree 1619, and will be penalized for the use or possession, or the unauthorized sale to minors of substances for the purpose of inducing intoxication.

He said police are more aggressive in their solvent-free campaign after the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 convicted an adult offender who violated the presidential decree.

Sabuga-a said the offender was arrested during the rescue operation of the COWD last year. The offender, who plead guilty, was responsible in selling vulcaseal to minors.

"Before, we let these adults go because we cannot charge them, but with the new conviction, we are more than aggressive to pin them down and stop the trend," he said.