BY THE BOOK

By: Apple Ta-as June 14,2015 - 11:15 PM

Roundup of streetkids done with social workers

Parks chief, commercial shop owners worried over rise in theft cases

by Apple Mae Ta-as, Correspondent

Policemen assigned at the Fuente area will continue to round up street children under the Libod Suroy program.

But this time, Senior Insp. David Señor said, they will do it by the book.

Señor, who took over as Fuente police precinct chief following the voluntary relief of his predecessor Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, said they will work closely with social workers and barangay point persons.

“We will still continue this but if the focal person or social workers are not around, we only try to shoo them away from the streets. But if they are reported to be engaged in theft or robbery, we will rescue them,” Señor said.

The Libod Suroy program came under fire following the death of 11-year-old streetkid Chastity Mirabiles.

Autopsy findings showed Mirabiles died of injuries due to blunt force trauma that was allegedly caused by mauling.

Complaints

Tiu and Fuente police personnel are under investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the incident. (See related story on Page 31)

Señor said they conducted three operations last week, rescuing 12 children along the streets in coordination with social workers and barangay focal person from 10 p.m. until midnight.

The change in enforcing the program came amid complaints from the City Social Welfare Office regarding the absence of social workers during roundups of street children.

There were no social workers present when Mirabiles and several children were rounded up on Easter Sunday last April.

Alarm

Señor made the assurance even as a top official of the Cebu City Parks and Playground Commission (CCPPC) voiced alarm over the increasing presence of street children in Cebu City’s parks particularly Plaza Indepedencia.

CCPPC Executive Director Librado Macaraya said some of these street children steal food from tourists and park visitors.

“Grabe gyud among alarma. Naa man ko kada hapon kay nag supervise ko sa landscaping, cleaning. Yaga yagaan ra nila ang mga security namo (We are quite alarmed about it. I’m there every afternoon supervising the landscaping and cleaning and our security personnel are having a hard time chasing them off),” Macaraya said.

At the Fuente area, Señor said they immediately turn over street children to a social worker’s office or to the barangay hall.

“We caught some street children at a convenience store in Fuente who attempted to break into a van. The street children reportedly tried to open the van and steal items. Good thing that the owner caught them,” he said.

Limits

The kids were brought to the Fuente police precinct and were immediately referred to the barangay officials of Calamba where the children live.

Still, Señor admitted there are limits to the Libod Suroy operation especially at dawn when they cannot round up streetkids along Mango Avenue without the presence of social workers.

“According sa mga establishment owners and tenants, the street children will try to enter the premises at 3 a.m. until 5 a.m. Though there are police assigned there we cannot catch them all,” Señor said.
Señor said they received complaints from owners of commercial establishments on the rise of robberies with Tiu’s absence.

Based on their records, robbery and theft cases rose to 65 last May compared to 44 in April. Tiu was on vacation in the US last month.

Visitors

“We will review the conduct of the operation and we will see where are our lapses and work on it,” Señor said.

For his part, Macaraya said he asked the Cebu City police, the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) and the Anti-Mendicancy Board to resolve the problem.

“There are many activities in the Plaza. There will be visitors at the Fort during APEC. We plan to have this Plaza cleared of street children particularly the Badjao,” he said.

He said he plans to meet with the heads of the Badjao natives in sitio Alaska Mambaling to address the issue, citing the increasing number of Badjao natives loitering in the Plaza.

“All the parks, Fuente, Parian. Any parks where there are street children with focus on the Plaza Independencia,” Macaraya said./With Correspondent Nestle L. Semilla

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TAGS: Chastity Mirabiles, Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, Fuente, Libod Suroy program, social workers, street kids

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