A few friends have asked me what I think of the 10 PM to 6 AM curfew for minors recently enforced with much fanfare by the municipal government of Lianga. The curfew is very much in the mind of most Lianga residents because of the warning siren that now sounds off at the start of the curfew hours late every night and again at its end early in the morning of the next day. The wail of the same siren also goes off regularly each day to mark the passing of the hours particularly at high noon during working days and, as a general alarm, can be used to alert and mobilize the townspeople to the existence of a town emergency.
If I remember correctly, the ordinance which provides the legal basis for the youth curfew had already been passed and approved by the Sangguniang Bayan or municipal council during the previous political administration but its actual enforcement has been, to date, sporadic and halfhearted at best. It remains to be seen if the current political leadership at the municipal hall does actually have the political will and the gumption to oversee its full and sustained implementation.
I have been one among many in Lianga who have long advocated for some form of night curfew for minors at least as a temporary measure to help curb the alarming rise in cases of youth delinquency and criminality within the municipality. This increase in anti-social and criminal incidents involving minors is usually linked to drug and alcohol abuse which is fast becoming a major concern for town officials and local law enforcement agencies.
But a youth curfew is merely one of a whole package of responses need to successfully respond to criminality whether it be of the youthful kind nor not and whether it takes place in the wee hours of the night or during the harsh light of day. Another is making sure that local police personnel are sufficiently motivated, trained, equipped and mobile enough to be actually "seen" enforcing the law. That means, in essence, more foot patrols and more police visibility all over the town and at all times of the day.
The people themselves must also be involved in the overall effort since youthful indiscretions that later lead to crime often have their origins in the home and family. The vigilance and cooperation of community residents with the police force is also an invaluable weapon in the fight against crime and all forms of civil disorder.
More importantly, all local government officials must be models of propriety and conscientious living and should not be, in any way, whether directly or indirectly, linked to any form of criminal activity even of the "recreational" kind. Thus they cannot be accused falsely of cuddling and protecting individuals, minors included, engaged in illicit, criminal activities of the kind they themselves can be accused of occasionally engaging in when they are in the mood to do so.
I applaud the purchase and installation of the siren warning system at the municipal hall. During my days in amateur radio in the 1990's, I was one among many who had always tried to push the municipal government to install a siren system as part of a comprehensive emergency and disaster response program. The proposal never got off the wish list until now but then, I suppose, one must be thankful for the small blessings even when they do come more than a bit late.
My only wish is that the siren and the youth curfew are real, actual and tangible manifestations of the current municipal government's genuine infatuation with public service and the desire to look after the general welfare of its constituents and not merely to gain "pogi" points in preparation for the 2010 elections. Unfortunately, only a sustained, focused, concerted and determined effort to combat criminality in all its forms within the municipality will prove that that is so.