Monday, October 10, 2011

Cries of the innocent

The arrest of fugitive Bella Ruby Santos, suspect in the killing of 6-year-old Ellah Joy Pique last week, couldn’t have been more timely.

Oct. 8, the day of Santos’ arrest, was the eighth month since Ellah was found dead off a cliff in Barili, and October is National Children’s Month.

This celebration was enacted through Presidential Proclamation No. 267 by Fidel Ramos in 1993. The theme for this year’s children’s month is “Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC) for a Bright Child: Let’s Activate, Strengthen and Help It.”

Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 provides for the organization and strengthening of the LCPC in every city and town in the country.

Now more than ever, citizens should bring pressure to bear on the LCPC in their locality, if one exists at all, considering the tragedies that have befallen Cebuano children.

The kidnap and grisly murder of Ellah of Minglanilla town wasn’t the only incident that claimed the life of a little one this year.

Tabuelan town’s Lara Mae Concodes, 6, was killed last May by her own uncle, who confessed to the crime saying that he was trying to stop Lara from turning into a manananggal.

Mandaue City’s Cort Cabucos, 7, drowned last May in a muddy creek that swelled during a heavy downpour.

Mandaue City’s Kate Arianne Chu Flores, 5, died last August after allegedly suffering unrelenting physical abuse in the hands of her stepmother.

Mandaue City’s Gabriel Morales, 7, was allegedly killed by his mother’s live-in partner. Gabriel’s corpse was found buried in the suspect’s toilet.

Barili town’s Ramsel Halos, 13, was found hanging lifeless from a mango tree in Maghanoy Elementary School. He was allegedly despondent over personal matters.

For an island whose central locality has been named an Asean City of Culture, Cebu doesn’t look like a safe place for children—our future—without whom any talk of flourishing culture is cheap.

Children’s month would be an opportune time for Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and the mayors to give the public an update about the the state of the LCPCs in Cebu’s towns and cities.

Had these child protection councils been activated—the children’s month theme seems to suggest they haven’t been—perhaps we wouldn’t have had to read about the tragic nipping of budding lives. Perhaps the state in its parens patriae role would have done more to educate parents and guardians about child rearing, school officials about intervention for depressed children, communities about watching against kidnappers and creating safe places for children to pray in.

Until the LCPCs are fully functioning to protect and promote the welfare of our children, we are a City of Culture on the wane, and as a Galilean Master would have it, we despise little ones to whom heaven belongs.
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