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Curfew benefits

First Posted 08:03:00 08/23/2010

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The involvement of minors in major criminal incidents from robbery, hold up, rape to murder saw local government officials studying national laws related to the protection of minors and Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura authoring a resolution urging all towns and cities in Cebu to adopt curfew measures.

In last week?s 888 News Forum, curfew on minors was a hot topic. Judging from feedback from Cebu City Hall and the Capitol, it is the favoured approach to stem the wave of juvenile criminal behavior.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes is eager to solve the problem but is still looking at options because according to his legal consultant Francisco Amit, the local curfew ordinance drafted in 1999 has been effectively disabled by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. Be that as it may, Mayor Cortes is set to meet with the local police and the social welfare council in order to thresh out the issues.

Surprisingly, Mandaue Police Office chief Supt. Noel Gillamac is not sold on the idea because ?it will antagonize the youth sector.? I don?t quite understand the basis of Supt. Gillamac?s view because a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., with certain limitations, although not the total solution to stem juvenile crime, can go a long way in protecting minors. I believe no parent or adult would debate against this justification even if this would pose some inconvenience to business and society at large.

Meanwhile, the administration of Mayor Paz Radaza in Lapu-Lapu City has been rounding off minors from the streets and has netted more than 370 young people since it imposed the local curfew ordinance this year. I don?t hear a peep from sectors complaining about the legality of the apprehensions, which I assume were done in orderly fashion with minors not subjected to harm or brutal methods by the police. Instances like these always end up in violations of human rights, a situation where the solution becomes more problematic than the problem that it sought to address.

One of the many approaches that local government units could look into is the time spent by minors in Internet cafes. It has been observed that many young people spend interminable time in Internet cafes chatting, playing video games, and online gambling. In China, South Korea and London, the addiction of young people to video games and online gambling became such a huge problem that governments were forced to impose a ?nightime shutdown? of video games for young people aged 19 and below.

The South Korean government, for one, blocked access to school-age gamers between midnight and 8 a.m. while slowing down users? internet connection after they have logged in for a certain period of time. If adopted locally, this will be a controversial measure because it will affect business but profit is a small sacrifice that businessmen can offer if we consider the benefits for the young and society as a whole.

* * *

Last week?s 888 News Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza was special because it coincided with the fourth anniversary of the kapihan-style news discussion.

In my opening remarks as member of the 888 Board of Trustees, I told media colleagues and guests that the concept of a media forum to highlight events and developments in the tourism sector was the core idea when I discussed the proposal with Jenny Franco, chief executive officer of Travel Vision and Cebu chapter president of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS).

I was then program director of dyRF and I happened to know Jenny through this paper?s publisher, Ms. Eileen Mangubat. Jenny was excited when I gave her the lowdown. With the help of broadcast colleague Ricky Poca, we decided to come up with a more encompassing forum, one that would provide access not only to broadcast but also print and TV media.

As presentor, NAITAS national president Bobby Joseph also came up with ideas to enhance the program. Together with then DOT regional director Dawnie Roa, media friend Honey Loop and General Manager of Cebu Parklane Hotel at that time, Mr. Rey Fuentes, all of whom subsequently formed the 888 Board of Trustees, we launched the 888 News Forum in 2006.

Words are not enough to thank those who helped 888 from its initial stages to the present, but we continue to extend our appreciation to The Parklane, where 888 held its debut through the generosity of the late hotel owner Manuel Ting and Fuentes. Afterwards, the Marco Polo Plaza through its helmsman, Hans Hauri opened its doors to media hounds in 2007. In 2008, we successfully negotiated with Waterfront Cebu City Hotel through GM Marco Protacio to host the weekly forum for more than a year.

From 2009 up to the present, 888 found a home in Marco Polo Plaza. In his own remarks during the well-attended soiree last Tuesday, Mr. Hans Hauri indicated that 888 can stay for as long as it likes in Cebu?s only five-star hotel. The Board of Trustees can?t thank Mr. Hans Hauri and his competent staff well enough but I will still say with feeling: Daghang salamat, Marco Polo Plaza!

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