ROUGH CUTS| We are part of the solution

WE BELIEVE it is unfair for some sectors in the Davao City population to heap the blame of the resurgence of juvenile gang wars on the newly assumed city police director.

The guy, P/Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, is barely two weeks old in his present position and we are sure he is still groping in the dark as to how to confront the problem brought about by youthful hooligans in the city.

Of course we agree with some of the observations posted in social media that when there is confrontation among warring gangs and one is caught in the middle, it indeed is very scary. We too, had that experience right in the vicinity of our editorial office some years back. We were slowing down as we were approaching the intersection and suddenly there were two groups of young people including teenage girls with stones in their hands. They were throwing the hard objects at each other without even looking at vehicles passing by or those parked on the road sides.

One stone barely missed by a foot our own vehicle and it could have broken our windshield or dented a side of our car. So, we are not totally ignorant of the feelings of some of those who got caught in the middle of two fighting gangs like what that PIA guy experienced last week

But should we put the blame of these gang-related incidents to the new DCPO director? From where we are perched we view such assumption as too early, even reckless.

Instead, Col. Tagum should be helped and provided with relevant information on the activities of these young hooligans so that he can craft a workable solution to the problem. We all know that the presence of gangs composed of young individuals is largely a problem societal in nature. Thus, it is imperative that its solution must not be purely police action. In fact we see the need to involve the basic unit of society, the family from whom those youth in conflict with the law come from.

And if the good DCPO director is certain the police already knew who the leaders of the different gangs in the city are, then we strongly recommend that he must know their families as well. We urge Colonel Tagum to check on the background of the gang leaders, get in touch with their parents through the barangay officials of the place where they come from and then engage them in the search for the appropriate measures to bring back their children to the ideal kind of life.

Perhaps the good colonel can also sit down with the local government executives including members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod to discuss the issue and find out if there are specific social programs that are being implemented so that police actions can be harmonized with it.

For now we know that the DCPO needs to live with what are provided in the Juvenile Justice System law where youth offenders cannot just be arrested and put behind bars even if they are clearly found committing infractions.

Meanwhile, it is important that Director Tagum knows where exactly are gang riots frequently happening. His covert operatives can very well help him on this. Once, the riot areas are pinpointed Tagum has to enhance police presence in these areas so that response will not be delayed if the law enforcers are just within the vicinity. In other words, riots can be deterred and if one is started at all, damage in properties, and injuries or even deaths can be avoided.

Perhaps, with close coordination with the Office of the City Mayor and the Barangay Councils preemptive measures can be put in place. And we believe that giving the barangay captains in areas where gang wars are more frequent, some degree of responsibility in ensuring peace and order in their respective barangays, then Tagum’s job would most likely be easier and lighter.

On the other hand, we strongly suggest that people, whether they are residents of the area where gang riots occur, must immediately call the police when they notice the presence of opposing gangs. It is extremely important that they should also share in the burden of maintaining peace in the community.

Or, should they be just another Pedro and Juan in that anecdote of these two characters that runs this way.

These Pedro and Juan were on board an airplane on their way to Manila from Davao. While midway on their flight Juan peeped by the window and saw one of the engines emitting fire with dark smoke. Juan tapped Pedro’s shoulder. He told his friend, “Pedro, look, there is fire on the wing of this plane.”

Pedro, with a shrug of his shoulder, retorted, “Never mind Juan. Why, this is not our airplane. So, why worry if this will burn.”

Moral of the anecdote: Juvenile hooliganism is one serious social ill. So, as part of society we too, have to be part of the solution. Ignoring the problem and just leaving the solution to the police is like letting our airplane crush with all of us on board.

So, let’s not just blame Colonel Tagum; let us help him solve OUR problem.

Posted in Opinion