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It takes a whole community to protect kids: DepEd, PNP

The Department of Education (DepEd) XI and Davao City Police Office (DCPO) urged the public to share the responsibility of protecting children from all forms of abuse, violence, exploitation, and threat following the rape and mutilation of a grade 9 student in Lapu-Lapu City.

Meanwhile, 38 rape cases were already recorded by the DCPO since January this year.

“We are calling all schools to implement security measures that they have in place already in protecting children, and we also enjoin the parents and the community to safeguard our children,” Deped XI spokesperson Jenielito Atillo told reporters yesterday in the AFP-PNP press briefing held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel.

“The evils are lurking everywhere so there is really a need in protecting each in everyone,” Atillo said.

“We  are also calling the parents  to make sure that their children are already at home, especially when it is already late at night. You should look for them in case they go out and return late already since we don’t want the barbaric crime to be repeated,” he added.

The victim, identified to be a 16-year-old student of Maribago High School, was reported missing by her mother Sunday when she failed to return home from serving as a tithe collector in church. Her lifeless body, reportedly raped and skinned to the skull, was discovered the following morning by passers-by.

An autopsy revealed that her tongue and esophagus were also pulled out.

The DepEd Schools Division Office of Lapu-Lapu City already issued a memorandum reminding all public and private elementary and secondary schools to strengthen their existing rules and policies on school safety.

The memo further enumerated security measures such as: restricting practices for school presentations and other school-related activities until 5 p.m. only; instructing school heads to advise learners to bring packed lunch or snacks instead of buying food outside school premises; ensuring that fully functional CCTV cameras are installed in strategic areas; requesting additional presence of police or barangay tanod in the area; and advising students to always go in groups when out on the streets, especially when it is already dark.

In a separate interview, Sr. Insp. Maria Theresita Gaspan, the spokesperson of Davao City Police Office, said parents “should monitor their children.”

This means that parents and guardians should check the children’s friends and companions, the usual school and extra-curricular activities, and the places where they are going.

Gaspan said they will also strictly implement the curfew on minors and anybody roaming the streets past 10 p.m. will be rescued. “The Sagop Kabataan is still in effect as included in the city ordinance,” she added.

She also said that the majority of rape cases happen at home, beyond the security coverage of the police.

“So we will continue on our intensified efforts on matters advocacy related to gender especially to children and women,” Gaspan said.

Gaspan said the Kindercops program remains in effect. This is where personnel of the Women and Children’s Desk conduct awareness campaigns in schools.

Based on the record of the DCPO, 11 of the 38 rape cases were minors.

“There are cases that already happened for years and was just reported late,” she added.“So the role of our parents  is of great help and they should not just entrust their children  to anyone.”

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