By: Benjie B. Talisic, Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Morexette Marie B. Erram, Nestle L. Semilla September 28,2017 - 11:04 PM

DODONG, 13, answers questions from the media and narrates his thieving exploits he says were taught to him by his own parents following his rescue on Thursday, September 28, 2017, by elements from the Cebu City Police Office.

Intervention needed for minor offenders

Police raise problem of lack of intervention facilities for children in conflict with the law, such as 13-year-old ‘Dodong’ who was found to have been involved in about 30 burglary cases.

At 13 years old, Dodong is an experienced thief.

The son of drug users, Dodong (not his real name) was only nine years old when he was taught to steal by his parents. The proceeds of his crime supported his parents’ shabu vice.

His mother taught him how to sneak into a house and what to steal: money, gadgets, and jewelry.

“Paso-an man ko kun dili ko mangawat (They would burn me with a melted plastic straw if I will not steal),” Dodong said.

The 13-year-old said his mother would ignite a plastic straw and rub the melted plastic on his skin.

His parents apparently knew the law that protected children in conflict with the law because they used him to steal from houses because, as a minor, he would have no criminal liability and would not go to prison.

“Dili man ko puwede mapriso kay bata man ko (I cannot be jailed since I am a child),” Dodong said.


Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) chief Senior Supt. Joel Doria said because Dodong is still a minor, they sought the help of the Cebu City government to intervene in the boy’s behalf.

He admitted it has been difficult for them to rescue minor offenders because they do not have any place to house them and provide the care provided by law.

“Sana yung ibang government agencies will also do their part. Kasi kami ginagawa din namin yung trabaho namin to keep these children out of the streets and (away from) harm,” Doria said.

(I hope other government agencies will also do their part because it’s our job to keep these children out of the streets and away from harm.)

Minor offenders who are arrested in Cebu City will be accommodated in the city-owned and managed Operation Second Chance Center (OCSC).

Cebu City Councilor Margarita Osmeña assured Doria that the boy will get help from the city government.

“Chief Doria called me saying they are looking for a place where they could keep him. He asked permission to put him in Operation Second Chance, which we did. He also asked if we could assign a social worker to take his case, which we also did,” she told Cebu Daily News.

The boy was brought to the OSCC yesterday afternoon.

During their phone conversation, Osmeña recalled that Doria was concerned about where to house minor offenders like Dodong since the CCPO does not have facilities similar to OSCC.

“We will not accept right away, some requirements have to be met. But as long as we can help and it involves a minor, which is why we have Operation Second Chance, then we will help the police,” she said.

Repeat offender

In the evening of Sept. 19, a Tuesday, Dodong was caught by the owner of the house that he meant to burglarized in Barangay Quiot-Pardo and was brought to the police station.

After documenting the incident, the police turned over the boy to the city’s social workers.

The following morning, Dodong was released but in the evening of the same day, he again forcibly entered another house intending to steal. Again, he was caught by the owners.

Chief Insp. Ramoncillo Sawan, the chief of the Punta Princesa Police Station chief, said Dodong was taken into custody by the police after trying to steal from two houses in Barangay Buhisan.

“We found out nga recidivist gyud siya. Naa ta’y rough estimate nga kapin na sa 30 ka kaso ang involvement niya sa pangawat, (We found out that he is a recidivist and our estimate is that is has been involved in 30 robbery cases),” Sawan said.

Doria said the parents of Dodong are also both recidivists.

Based on reports of CCPO, Doria said the mother of Dodong has five cases of robbery in the city and is currently detained at the Cebu City Jail.

“Five times na nahuli yung mother as akyat-bahay. Yung father naman nakakulong daw sa Luzon, same case,” Doria said.

(The mother has been arrested five times already for robbery. The father is also detained in Luzon for the same case)

Doria said that the boy also told them that his parents were into illegal drug use.

Dodong, speaking to reporters yesterday, said he lived in Barangay Buhisan with his grandmother but he never really stayed there as he was out most of the time.

The boy said he lived in the streets and would often go places outside of Cebu City, like Liloan town in the north and Naga City in the south, among other places, just to steal.

Dodong admitted to engaging in substance abuse.

He said he has been a rugby user and used the proceeds of his crime to feed himself and to buy rugby.


Sawan admitted they were amazed and worried by the skill of the 13-year-old.

“Maka-abli siya og padlocks in less than 30 seconds. Kadtong tag-iya sa balay nga iyahang gisaka nitug-an nga natingala sila nganong wala siya (Dodong) paghuta sa ilahang Rottweiler nga iro maong nakasaka siya (Dodong) sa balay,” Sawan said.

(He can open padlocks in less than 30 seconds. The owner of the house was wondering why their Rottweiler didn’t even bark at him, the reason why he was able to enter the house.)

Yesterday, Dodong showed his skill in opening a numbered lock in less than one minute before the media.

He also tried to open the locker of one of the policemen in the Punta Princesa Police Station using his left hand.

At 13, his skills as a burglar could develop further if he were left alone, which could lead him to bigger cases of theft or robbery, the reason why they are worried, Sawan said.


But there’s still hope for Dodong to overcome the horrible experiences he endured most of his growing years.

According to psychologist Mary June Delgado, victims of physical and mental abuses at a young age can still fully recover from the trauma and ‘immoral practices’ inflicted on them.

In Dodong’s case, Delgado said he would need to be desensitized, a term in psychology used to describe the process on unlearning negative actions, responses, phobias, and anxieties so that when he reaches adulthood, he will be able to rejoin society like any productive, law-abiding person.

Psychologists define effort justification as a concept that encourages an individual to perceive a goal as ‘worthwhile and more favorable’ if they pour extreme amounts of effort into achieving it, not minding the negative consequences of doing so.

Delgado said the pain Dodong suffered from being beaten up and burned with plastic straws led the minor to accept that what his parents instructed, such as stealing other people’s personal properties, was something of value.

“What he learned from his parents, both directly and indirectly, has become part of his mentality. For him, stealing people’s things and maybe doing shabu is alright. It’s OK,” she added.


To desensitize Dodong, the psychologist recommended that he be placed under the care of social workers and psychology experts, who have the knowledge and skills to conduct counseling and psychotherapy sessions needed for him to abandon completely the practices he adapted.

Otherwise, Dodong may not only continue doing petty crimes but will progress into a more aggressive individual who can potentially harm others.

“These psychotherapy sessions are needed. Otherwise, if he’ll reach adulthood, he’ll harm other people, too. He will not have the insights of the morality of his actions. He will not be given a lesson that what his parents have done or what he’s doing is against social norms,” Delgado added.

And as soon as Dodong completes his counseling and psychotherapy sessions, the psychologist said he should be taken far away from the things associated with the pain he endured as a child.

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TAGS: children, minor, needed, police, steal

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