The clearingÂ of rugby boys from the city thoroughfares remains inconclusive until the city governmentâ€™s rehabilitation center called Paglaum Center starts operation.
In response to public clamor, Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap sent all members of theÂ Active Local Emergency Response TeamÂ (ALERT) to swoop down the streets and track down the rugby boys.
Indeed, six minors had been nabbed on Thursday andÂ Friday.
ALERT members arrested the first batch of four minors at aroundÂ 5 p.m.Â on ThursdayÂ when caught in the act of sniffing rugby near the City Square in the commercial district of Tagbilaran City, and turned them over to the city police station.
The team nabbed the next batch of two minors in the same areaÂ on FridayÂ morning and immediately turned them over to the city police station also.
The Womenâ€™s Desk of the Tagbilaran City Police Station then turned over all the six rugby boys to the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) at aroundÂ 4pm.Â on Friday.
According to an officer of the city police station, there had been a number of arrests of rugby boys in the past, but many of them had returned to the streets after a while.
The city government teams are now on high alert against the rugby boys, according to the city mayor.
YapÂ said he already met all ALERT members and instructed them to monitor the activities of the remaining rugby boys on the streets.
Yap, however, explained that the long-term solution from the city governmentâ€™s side will have to wait for the operation of the Paglaum Center.
HeÂ explained that the concerns about street children will be addressed conclusively once the Paglaum Center starts operation.
The city governmentâ€™s social welfare program actually covers the concerns on rugby boys, according to the city mayor.
He said city officials cannot allow these young children to grow up into criminals and the effort to address concerns regarding them requires a complete reformation program which the city government will have to put in place once the Paglaum Center starts operation.
Concerns aboutÂ violent tendencies of street children already caught the attention of the CSWDO even in 2015 yet.
With limited manpower, the CSWDO earlier admitted that theyÂ wereÂ helpless in the worsening problem on juvenile delinquency that beset growing cities like Tagbilaran.
The concern on juvenile delinquency again drew public attention as victims came out to open about incidents of malicious mischief involving street children whose presence also became noticeable in populous areas such as those nearby malls and schools.
According to victims, they would scratch vehicles of those who would refuse to their offer to serve as watch-your-car boys or those who would pay them less than their expectation.
Most of them would just ask money from vehicle owners at parking lots, usually at the Island City Mall area across the central public market.
Some street children would also approach vehicles at intersections when the traffic light turns red to ask for money and would turn violent when refused.
The CSWDO officer-in-charge had also said earlier that theyÂ wereÂ aware of the growing problem about the street children, but with only three personnel, they could hardly handle the problem.
On this, ALERT members have been assisting the CSWDO in keeping the juvenile delinquents out of theÂ streets.
The city government formed the ALERT in 2014, the â€œcontextualized version of the disaster risk reduction and management team in most local government unitsâ€.
Another problem that holds the CSWDO from going after problematic street children is the lack of a facility where they can accommodate them for rehabilitation.
The CSWDO had earlierÂ expressed that a rehab center had been long overdue.
The past city administrations should have started working on a rehabilitation center as mandated by the Juvenile Justice Law or RA 9344 that took effect in 2006, according to a CSWDO official.
Other local government units like Cebu already complied with the law.
It is for this reason that Yap prioritized the Paglaum Center when he first assumed as city mayor in 2013.
Paglaum Center will provide skills training, sports facilities and other personality enhancement tools to ensure that a juvenile delinquent will be reformed into a law-abiding citizen and useful individual the moment he steps out and reintegrates into the community.
Guidance counselors will also be hired to assist in the reformation of the youth offenders.
The absence of a rehabilitation center made it difficult for the CSWDO to implement RA 9344, because the CSWDO office along Calceta St. is not conducive to undertake exercises that would reform the youth offenders.
Oftentimes, the youth offenders turned over to them by the city police could easily escape and go back to the streets until they become habitual offenders.