Police nationwide must help discipline school ‘bulakbuleros’

I’M referring to the need for the Philippine National Police to help discipline students across the country by fully enforcing government orders and city and municipal ordinances banning the presence of young schoolchildren in internet cafes, shopping malls, billiard halls and the likes during school hours.

If NCRPO chief Major General Gilor Eleazar has done it, I think there’s no reason why the rest of the police regional directors cannot  do it. It’s high time for the police to go all out in regularly inspecting internet shops, billiard halls, malls and other commercial establishments and arrest the presence of so-called ‘bulakbuleros.’

Police can seek the help of barangay and school authorities in accosting students in uniforms in these establishments and see to it that owners of computer shops and billiard halls and the like who are allowing the entry of students even during school hours should be slapped with charges that will result in the closure of their business.

As it  turned out, there is a Department of Education Order (DO) 86, Series 2010 which prohibits  students in public and privat elementary and secondary schools from going to computer shops, malls, theaters and the likes during their class hours. There are also similar city and municipal ordinances which are not being implemented to the hilt, or in some cases ‘ningas-cogon’ only.

I still remember an instance when I entered an air-conditioned internet care located near a row of schools along Marcos Highway in Antipolo City last year just out of curiosity. A bold sign at the  computer shop’s entrance says: Students Not Allowed During School Hours. But to my surprise, I found dozens of young male students, many of them I believe Grade 8 to 9 students inside playing what I later discovered were DOTA games.

The students, all in school uniforms were cursing at the top of their voices as if they were drunk. I also visited similar computer shops in some malls in Quezon City and discovered the same scenario. Young students in uniforms playing games and cursing and yelling like wild animals past 2 in the afternoon. The worse thing here is that the maintainers of those shops were enjoying the show, all ready to count their earnings at the end of the day.

Last Thursday, Eleazar gave a fatherly scolding to 12 young high school students he found playing in an internet care in West Rembo, Makati City as he ordered all police units in Metro Manila to likewise inspect similar establishments in their territories and implement the Dep-Ed order and similar ordinances.

Just like me, Eleazar found out that there was a signage outside the Sandbox Cybercafe which says ‘students not allowed during school hours.’ However, he happened to see the 12 senior high school students who are either playing online computer games such as Crossfire, DOTA and League of Legends or simply browsing the YouTube and Facebook although they are supposed to be in their classrooms studying their lessons or doing their assignments.

In the wake of the NCRPO chief’s discovery, I call on PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde to order his men all over the country to see to it that similar ‘bulakbol’ activities will be prevented. Imagine, regular school had just started last week and we already have seen young students skipping their classes just to spend their money in computer shops.

What the police need is to see to it that these erring establishments will be padlocked the soonest.  As Eleazar had said, parents, students and the rest of the general public must understand that there is an existing policy banning the presence of elementary and high school students in such establishments during school hours.   However, the policy is being violated most specifically by owners of computer shops since they want to earn money and having lots of students as patrons means huge income for them. In short, ‘pera-pera na lang’ and that ‘I don’t care’ attitude as long as my business grows.

Last Thursday, Eleazar gave the young students, 12 of them below 18 years old some fatherly-like scolding as he warned them they would be accosted by the police next time for violating a city ordinance and the Dep-Ed order. He added that he will see to it that the particular computer shop will be padlocked apart from paying a fine.

“Kayo ay dapat na nasa classrooms ninyo  o nag-aaral ng inyong leksiyon pero sa halip ay nandito kayo sa internet shop at naglalaro ng computer games. Bukod sa ubos na ang inyong baon, natatanim sa isip ninyo na dahil nakakalusot kayo sa inyong mga magulang at sa mga otoridad, maaarin na ninyong gawin ang iba pang mga bisyo. Maaaring sa susunod ay sigarilyo at alak, at sa susunod ay marijuana o shabu na,” Eleazar told the students.

The official did not order the apprehension of the students but called on his men to list their names for record purposes only. He said that they will call the attention of their parents and concerned teachers the next time they are caught in the same internet shop during school hours so that proper disciplinary measures can be instituted on them.

By enforcing the rule versus so-called ‘bulakbuleros,’ police will also help parents who are toiling very hard to send their kids to school but have no more time to check if their kids are really attending their classes.  As Eleazar had said, “Kawawa naman po ang ating mga magulang kung makikita nila na ang mga pinag-aaral nilang mga anak ay nagka-cutting classes at nag-i-istambay lang at umiinom o nagsisigarilyo sa mga internet cafes, malls at mga bilyaran.”

For the record, many local government units in Metro Manila have their own ordinances banning minors and students inside internet cafes and computer shops specifically during school and curfew hours. Many LGUs have also prohibited the operation of network gaming shops and other similar establishments within a 100-meter radius of any education or religious institution.

The said code also imposes stiffer penalties, raising the fine from P1,000 to P2,000 or four months in jail, upon discretion of the court, for the first offense. For the second offense, a P3,000-fine is meted with a six-month imprisonment. On the third offense, a P5,000-fine, closure and confiscation of gaming and other equipment, as well as imprisonment of not more than 12 months, will be imposed on violators. What we lack here is the word called ENFORCEMENT.