Mandaue streetkids switch to new solvent not covered by city lawBy Jucell Marie P. Cuyos
Cebu Daily News
With a city ordinance making it tough for him to buy rugby in stores, 13-year-old Romy (not his real name) decided to shift to Vulcaseal.
“Mas grabe mani ug tama siya kaysa atong rugby, mao bitaw nibalhin mi (Its effect is stronger than rugby, that’s why I shifted to it),” Romy told Cebu Daily News while sniffing the solvent inside a transparent plastic packet.
Romy shared his Vulcaseal with friends Marcos, 13 and Jessie, 10, along A. Del Rosario Street, barangay Centro, Mandaue City. They call themselves ‘Vulca’ boys.
Chief Insp. Michael Anthony Bastes, chief of the Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB) of the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO), confirmed there’s an existing city ordinance that restricts rugby purchase among minors.
But Bastes said there’s no existing local law on the regulation of Vulcaseal, an elastomeric sealant used in patching holes in aluminum roofing and plastic pipes, because city officials may not have known that it was being used by street kids.
“Vulcaseal is cheaper, more readily available and is enough for them (street children),” he said.
Romy confirmed this, saying that after sniffing Vulcaseal he and friends would feel as if they’ve eaten a full meal.
“Ganahan raman ko kay mabosog rako cge simhot-simhot ani (I’m hooked on this since I can feel full just by sniffing this),” Romy said while raising the plastic packet filled with Vulcaseal to his nostrils.
Romy said he and his friends would ask fellow youthful vagrants of legal age to buy the Vulcaseal every other day for P40 per packet and tip them P10.
He said they roam the city streets every night begging for money from passersby.
Romy said they started using Vulcaseal after getting feedback from other rugby boys who told them that Vulcaseal is more potent than rugby.
He said he stays on the streets to avoid the scolding and beatings of his parents.
Romy said he lost interest in school after his teacher reprimanded him for not making assignments.
“I got humiliated that’s why I don’t go to school,” he said.
In the streets, Romy said nobody would remind him of his mistakes or how dumb he was in school.
In the streets, Romy said his friends accepted him for who he was.
Romy said he and Jessie entrust the Vulcaseal to Marcos. Marcos showed to Cebu Daily News the plastic packet containing Vulcaseal, now half full.
A home, not a prison
Recalling his duty as chief of Cebu City’s Fuente police precinct, Bastes said he used to give street children food and clothes and let them sleep inside the precinct if only to keep them out of trouble.
Aside from private contributions, Bastes said he jogs with the kids and brings them to Church to learn spiritual values.
“This rearing should be consistent otherwise they would return to their old ways,” he said.
Unfortunately that’s not the case in Mandaue City where street kids leave the City Social Welfare Services (CSWS) to fend for themselves a few days after they were rounded up.
City Social Welfare Division officer Maricel Yu said they can’t force street children to stay in the shelter due to the existing Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006.
Yu, who’s also the Mandaue City Children Protection Council (MCCPC) focal person, said hardcore street children escape the shelter through the windows.
City Social Welfare Services Chief Violeta Tabada said these kids usually escape after being fed.
“We can’t imprison them since the shelter isn’t a prison. The windows don’t have grills,” she said.
Sarah Walker-Cortes, wife of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, said the city government will build a new shelter for homeless children and children in conflict with the law (CICL) called Home Mandaue.
She said the groundbreaking for the P34 million project located in a 1.2 hectare government lot in sitio Dungguan, barangay Basak will be on February, 2013.
Cortes said the three-storey building will house recreational, livelihood and material recovery facilities (MRF).
“In line with our advocacy in making these homeless children, those in conflict with the law become better people and avoid self-destruction,” she added.