Jerome Estan and Singapore-like peace and order

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

Jerome Estan, 16, was in the prime of his youth. He was a scholar and wanted to become an engineer. But his dream died with him on August 6, this year, at around 11 p.m. in the evening in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City, after he was robbed and then stabbed in the chest.

His assailants, except one, are all minors.

The usual scenes that characterize our reactions following a brutal attack like this ensued; people are jolted.

Police officers vow to revisit security measures and bring the culprits to justice while legislators call for an investigation.

After a lull, the world forgets until another brutal crime shakes our senses again.

This cycle confronts us in the face and will make us reflect on how distant we still are from the Singapore-like Cebu City that Mayor Mike Rama dreams of. A place where criminals, minors, and non-minors alike, seem to have a newfound sense of freedom can be any place, but I am sure it is not Singapore or similar.

I address this to Mayor Rama: If you are serious about making Cebu City Singapore-like or you are not kidding about it, make peace and order one of your top priorities, and produce tangible results.

Since you hired retired general Debold Sinas, people have had high expectations. They have always thought that fear will be sown in the hearts of criminals. Nothing of that sort has happened so far, mayor.

Something drastic must be done. Curfew for minors must return, and if there is already an ordinance to this effect, it must be enforced.

The fact that the suspects are all minors, except one, tells us that there are minors who roam around the city at night, not because they merely want to enjoy their boyhood, but because they intend to rob or kill or rape. Most probably they are under the influence of illegal drugs, for how else can they gather enough determination to carry out gruesome crimes like the one that happened to Jerome Estan?

Many crimes happen in the evening, so our minors must be at home at night doing what they ought to do as they build their future; studying their lessons, doing their homework, or sleeping early to remain healthy and be in the company of their family.

Curfews will not prevent every crime, but they will prevent many crimes. We will be saving a lot of lives from the hands of criminals.

A bill recently filed in the Lower House seeks to implement a nationwide curfew for minors or those below 18 years old.

In her explanatory note, its author, Rep. Bernadette Hererra Dy, said: “Children below the age of 18 are vulnerable to abuse to exploitation, drug addiction, and the commission of criminal acts, as well as being at risk of committing criminal offenses themselves.”

I don’t know what we are all still waiting for before we act swiftly and decisively.


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