Curfew gains support from Garcia, chiefs

08/17/2010 - A PROPOSED curfew on minors will be one of the crime prevention tactics for discussion today, when Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia meets with chiefs of police and other law enforcement units.

The governor favors a proposed Provincial Board (PB) resolution to enforce a curfew, but also believes the most effective way to keep minors away from crime is to repeal the juvenile justice law.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Patrocinio Comendador admitted a curfew will minimize crimes, but not eradicate them.

“It is not a sustainable solution,” Comendador said of the proposal.

However, three other police officials support the proposal of PB Member Sun Shimura, asking local governments in the province and police to enforce curfews.

Toledo City Police Chief Jovito Canlapan said from January to July this year, 60 theft cases occurred, with minors as perpetrators.

Most of these cases, though, were not filed because of the law protecting minors from facing criminal charges.

Minglanilla Police Chief Resty Santos, in a separate interview, said in the absence of the full implementation of the ordinance, minors who stay out in the streets until the wee hours will continue to become crime victims or suspects.

He said a curfew will minimize, if not stop, minors from getting involved in petty crimes.

Like Toledo City, theft, burglary in particular, is the most common crime committed by minors in the southern town.

Canlapan and Santos said there are existing curfew ordinances in Toledo and in Minglanilla, but “political will” from local governments and concerned agencies is needed for these to be fully implemented.

Santos said the Department of Social Welfare and Development should provide a holding area for curfew violators.

Canlapan, on the other hand, suggested that minors should also be prohibited from joining benefit dances during fiestas. It is during these activities that minors stay out late.

Given the right support from the local government and agencies, imposing the curfew will be an effective tool to keep minors from getting involved in a crime or ending up as a victim, added Chief Insp. Romeo Santander, Regional Special Operations Group 7 head and lead officer of the police media center.

The governor said minors have no business roaming the streets late at night.

“If you are a minor, you are supposed to be still in school. At those hours, if you are not asleep, you are supposed to study.

There is no reason for you to be out in the streets at night,” Garcia said.

She said parental responsibility is significant in enforcing the curfew.

The governor was supposed to meet with Chief Supt. Lani-O Nerez today, but the latter was directed to report to Camp Crame. She will instead meet with Chief Supt. Ager Ontog Jr., the new PNP Regional Office (PRO) 7 director.

Garcia had asked Nerez to come up with a clear plan on how the Province can help the police.

“This is in regards to possible intervention of the Province in terms of logistical and financial needs,” she said.

Garcia has high expectations for Nerez’s successor, whom she met briefly during the turnover ceremonies at the PRO 7 last week.

“We have had the opportunity of having been served by professional and hard-working leaders. They know very well that that is also our expectation and we are thankful that for the past years, the police, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), army and others, showed hard work and professional conduct so that our expectation is that they continue it because it is what Cebu deserves,” the governor said.

Shimura will be invited to the next provincial development meeting with mayors and vice mayors, where they can agree to file and pass ordinances, uniformly adopting a curfew on minors.

Officials in the province are not alone in wanting to keep minors out of the streets late at night.

The police chiefs of Fuente, Carbon, Guadalupe and Mabolo, all in Cebu City, believe gang wars and petty crimes will be reduced if a curfew is strictly imposed.

The crime rate will also drop, said Theft and Robbery Section Chief Bonifacio Garciano. “The Anti-street Hoodlum team will no longer be bothered,” he said in Cebuano.

Guadalupe Police Chief Mario Monilar said the curfew will, in no way, restrict a teenager’s freedom.

“They will not be arrested, but rescued. The problem with our country is there is too much democracy,” he said in Cebuano. (Sunstar)

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