Cosap calls on barangay TANODS to strictly enforce
“Be home by 10 p.m.”
Reports of local gangs recruiting minors and making them into drug couriers have prompted the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) to call for a meeting with barangay captains (village chiefs) to strictly impose the “curfew for minors” ordinance.
This developed after Cosap chief Gary Lao received a text message forwarded by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña last November 25 of a growing threat in the peace and order situation of Barangay Basak Pardo because of the presence of local gangs that are recruiting minors.
Lao said he also received reports that gangs are present in other barangays such as Capitol Site and Kamputhaw.
Lao is set to meet the chief tanods on February 5 (Monday) to discuss the recent pronouncement of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to cancel the allowances of barangay tanods if they fail to address the issue of minors being recruited by local gangs.
As leaders of their villages, Lao said the barangay tanods (village watchmen) are responsible in conducting regular roving activities to secure that minors are not outside of their homes from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Cebu City Ordinance Number 1786 prohibits minors “of any gender or sex, below 18, to wander, stray, saunter, loiter or ramble outside their residence within Cebu City between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. when they are not accompanied by any parent or guardian.”
The ordinance states that those minors found in the streets at night without their guardians are susceptible to engage in drugs or participate in crimes and mischief.
“This is why we are calling for the strict implementation of the curfew for minors. Wala man siguro ginikanan nga masuko namo nga among ihatod ilang anak pauli sa ilaha,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.
(I don’t think there is any parent who will be angry at us if we bring their children home.)
Lao said chief tanods of each barangay should be aware of their lapses and should know that appropriate measures will be meted on erring employees.
“If we found out that the barangay tanods are not doing their jobs, then we will not have second thoughts in recommending to the mayor to cancel their allowances,” said Lao.
Lao said Barangay Basak Pardo is not considered as an illegal drug hotspot in Cebu.
“We know that there are individuals in the barangay involved in the illegal drug trade but the situation is not as alarming as other barangays such as Pasil, Ermita and Duljo-Fatima, which are identified by police as drug hotspots,” said Lao.
Lao said he will meet the chief tanods of the barangays to set guidelines on the curfew and engage in a dialogue about the importance of implementing the ordinance.
The text message received by Osmeña in November 2017 came from a concerned citizen of the barangay who said that the issue on illegal drugs has worsened in Barangay Basak Pardo.
The tipster called on Osmeña to help solve the illegal drugs issue in the barangay and carry out appropriate action on the presence of minors on the streets. These minors are reportedly members of local gangs in the village.
Lao said he coordinated with Basak Pardo Barangay Captain Yolandito Cagang about the matter last year.
Cagang, in a separate interview, said he received reports that minors were recruited to join a fraternity or gang.
He said gang members from other barangays also go to Basak Pardo to recruit their youngsters.
“Ato naman ni sigehan og bantay. Mao gyud ni ang gibantayan sa atong mga tanod,” Cagang said.
(We are carefully monitoring this issue. Our barangay tanods are on the lookout for individuals who are recruiting our minors to be part of local gangs.)
Cagang denied reports that they were not implementing the curfew for minors ordinance in the barangay.
In fact, he said, they have the most number of rescued minors during roving hours of barangay tanods.
But Cagang said the responsibility of making sure that the minors are safe does not only rely on the barangay.
He said parents and guardians should also monitor their children.
The same call was made by Leah Quintana, information officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas (DSWD-7).
“The parents are the role models and first teachers to their children. It is important that values are taught and instilled in the children while they are growing up,” said Quintana.
Quintana said that rescued minors are brought to the local social welfare office and will undergo assessments.
Under the Cebu City Ordinance, first offenders will be escorted by the police or barangay tanods to their homes.
On the second offense, parents or guardians of the minors will be required to attend a half-day parenting seminar. Parents of third-time violators would be tasked to render seven days of community service. On the fourth and subsequent violations, appropriate charges will be filed against the parents or guardians.
Exemptions, however, are given to those coming home late after attending scholastic, educational and religious activities.
Those tasked to do errands like going to a hospital are also exempted from the ordinance.
Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, who was the former barangay captain of Basak Pardo, stressed the need for a concerted effort between the parents and barangay officials to ensure that minors are safe and protected from violence.
“Barangay officials together with the parents should have the eagerness and political will to pre-empt (this kind of situation),” Tumulak said.
Tumulak said the “resurrection” of these local gangs is not only happening in Basak Pardo.
Senior Supt. Julian Entoma, officer in charge of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said they are monitoring and investigating reports about minors, who are reportedly involved as drug couriers.
Entoma said he has directed Chief Insp. Regino Maramag, station commander of Pardo Police Station, to focus on this issue and gather more information about these reports.
Cagang admitted he received reports that minors are being used as drug couriers.
“Posible nga maoy tuyo ani sa pag-recruit pero wala pa ni nato na-confirm. Ato pa ning gi-verify,” Cagang said.
(It is possible that they are recruited to be drug couriers. But we have not confirmed this report. We are still verifying it.)
Cagang said the difficult part of the situation is that those who recruit minors are also minors.
Dr. Bianito Dagatan, Department of Education (DepEd-7) superintendent for the Cebu City Division, said the police should intensify efforts to protect the most vulnerable children.
Dagatan said children are mere victims of those involved in illegal drug activities.
“Hopefully, the order of the city government to strictly implement the curfew will happen all year round to deter those illegal activities,” he said.
“Let us spare our children from violence,” added Dagatan.