Members of the Philippine National Police teaching the street children in Manila
MANILA, Philippines – Cops in Manila have taken turns gathering street children along Roxas Boulevard not to arrest them but to give them books to read.
Street children are prone to street crimes and their vulnerability are being corrupted at an early age if without proper guidance.
They spend most of their time loitering in parks or along the roads begging for alms.
Nineteen-year-old Lhera recalled how she became accustomed to doing things which she shouldn’t have been doing at a young age.
Due to lack of proper guidance, they just did what they thought was good but was in fact doing things that are against the law.
“Dati po nagnanakaw, nagso-solvent. Nanghahablot po kapag hindi kami binigyan. Pero dahil po sa mga guro naming pulis, nagbago po kami,” Lhera said.
That’s why personnel from the Manila Police District (MPD) launched the mobile library project dubbed as “Pulis na, Teacher pa” program to help street children and out-of-school-youth like Lhera to learn basic academic lessons, good manners and right conduct as well as personal hygiene.
The mobile library regularly parks along Roxas Boulevard every Wednesdays and Fridays.
It is equipped with a wide variety of books collected from private donations. It has audio-visual aids which are effective tools to catch the interests of children.
“Ang magiging subject for the day namin ngayon ay ipapakita ng volunteer teacher namin kung sino ang mga bayani natin. Basic at ang parts of the body at ang mga kinds of job na gusto nilang marating balang araw,” explained one of teacher-cops SPO1 Dennis Bendo.
This gesture by policemen is very much appreciated by the parents of street children in the area because they see how their children learn good things and moral values through the project.
“Malaking tulong po kasi nakakalimutan nila ang mga bisyo nila. Kadalasan kasi ang mga bata ay nagbibisyo sila. Hawa-hawa katulad ng pagso-solvent, nagpupuyat sa gabi. Hindi katulad ngayon maaga pa lang naghihintay na sila,” said Jocelyn, one of the parents.
According to the proponent of the project District Mobile Force Battalion Chief PSupt. Rex Arvin Malimban, their mobile library has just debuted on October 24 and he wishes it to be part of a regular program of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in order to save the street children from becoming liabilities in the society.
“Nag-ugat po ito doon sa mga issue ng mga kabataan na nagba-viral. Umaakyat sa jeep, nang-i- snatch. Kapag nakukuha natin ang mga kabataan, majority are minors so syempre isinu-surrender natin sa DWSD. After ilang (araw) minsan within a day, ibabalik sa pamilya nila o sa barangay nila. So paulit ulit lang ang process. So nag-isip kami ng paraan kung paano kami makaka interact sa kanila,” Malimban explained.
The PNP leadership, meanwhile, is in support of the project. In fact, PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde is keen on launching mobile libraries and teacher-cops in different parts of the country.
“Puwedeng gayahin ng iba iyan. That’s one good practice para makatulong diyan sa mga batang nasa streets lang at wala silang kakayahan o their parents na papuntahin sa mga schools, At least, para makatulong man lang tayo sa mga kabataan. Kung pwede natin magawa iyan sa Mindanao ay gagawin natin,” Albayalde concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
A PNP patrol car turned into a mini library