Tiu starts rounding up street children anew
For years, the bridge along Barangay Mabolo in Cebu City has been the shelter of young kids loitering the streets nearby.
It ended yesterday when Mabolo policemen, led by Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, a tough advocate against street children freely roaming the city’s streets, fenced the bridge’s underside to stop street children from staying beneath the structure, where they have built makeshift rooms.
Police also rounded up about 10 children and found in their possession some deadly weapons and other pointed instruments that might have used to rob passersby; as well as empty plastic bags with solvent residue believed to have used by the solvent-sniffing children.
Tiu is no stranger to rounding up street children and was linked to last year’s death of 11-year-old Chastity Mirabiles, a street dweller allegedly mauled by policemen, when he still headed the Fuente Osmeña police. The case was dropped after no evidence was found linking Tiu to the child’s death.
Tiu, who was also accused of shaving the heads of three street girls who were rounded up in April last year, was later transferred to the Central Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO 7) and then to the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) intelligence unit last January before he was assigned to head the Mabolo police last month.
Many of these children who hang out along Mabolo Bridge are believed to be addicted to sniffing solvent and have been openly doing do even if the Mabolo Police Station is just meters away, as caught in a photo published last Monday by Cebu Daily News.
Tiu said they took action amid complaints from pedestrians that these children were involved in robbery and other petty crimes, such as grabbing the food of some passersby. These kids have been addicted to sniffing solvent and, worse, were engaged in premarital sex while in their makeshift rooms under the bridge, he added.
“Because the police officers cannot guard the area for 24 hours, we have to block the bridge so that these street children will no longer access the area beneath the bridge that served as their shelter,” he said.
Two of the children – siblings Mark Anthony, 11, and Marjorie, 12, said their mother lives in Barangay Pasil but both preferred to hang out at the bridge area with their friends and sleep under the bridge at night. In between, they said they begged for alms from commuters and passersby.
Mark Anthony said their father died a long time ago and their mother, a laundrywoman, did not mind that they spend most of their time at the bridge area.
But Tiu said the parents of these children could be held liable for child abuse for abandoning their children and putting their safety at risk. “These parents should be identified, and if it applies, file cases against them,” he said.
Tiu said that social workers should not just count the number of children roaming Cebu City’s streets, but also to hold their parents accountable.
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