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Unemployment

Pastillas Scheme

THE sight of barefooted and half-naked people, many of them youngsters, spending their nights in dimly-lit public places suggests the seriousness of the nation’s joblessness problem.

Of course, various quarters concede that there are more crimes being committed by jobless youngsters, including minors, these days not only in heavily-populated urban centers but elsewhere.

Last week, no less than the government official tasked to meet the employment and other needs of the mushrooming population was himself victimized by four unemployed people in Manila.

The suspects, aged 15 to 18 years old, snatched the cellular phone of Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III along Burgos Street in the vicinity of Mehan Garden and Manila City Hall.

Last Monday, Maj. Joselito de Ocampo of the Manila Police District presented the suspects, who were arrested during follow-up operations, to the DOLE chief at his office in Intramuros, Manila.

Likewise, Major De Ocampo turned over to Bello his snatched high-end mobile phone, an iPhone 11 Pro Max worth some P79,000.

Instead of sending the suspects to jail, Bello offered to help the youngsters by providing them jobs, according to DOLE-Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia.

But Francia said the labor secretary from Isabela, a lawyer, wanted the buyer of the mobile phone, who was also arrested by the police, to be jailed if found guilty of buying a stolen item.

In the view of many quarters, there’s really that urgent need for concerned state authorities to now come up with” a comprehensive system” to deal with the country’s young offenders.

And the approach should be “reform” as what the soft-spoken and workaholic Ilocano Cabinet member wants, giving the young snatchers the chance to change for the better.

But the $64 question remains: Are the suspects ready to be transformed into law abiding citizens?