What has happened to the City Baywalk? A cold-blooded stabbing murder of a teener by a gang of youth inside a restaurant that sells drinks to minors punctuated the first Sunday of 2021. The incident practically condemns this recreational park into a hostile, let alone ugly, public facility.
The incident, caught on cellphone video, had spread rapidly on social media, amplifying its shock factor even more. It left a family devastated, a community petrified at the violence that has branded the place.
A continuing media probe on this story has it that rival youth gangs, with names like Alpha Planet, Paltera, Scorpions and Crew Zero, have made Baywalk a territory of sorts. Many cases of mischief have been reported among them in the past, but not on efforts to break them up or dissuade them from engaging in gang activities.
The last observation threads on a similar narrative about Puerto Princesa City having the highest incidence of teen pregnancy in the MIMAROPA region and an unwanted distinction of also having one of the highest incidence of HIV-AIDS among cities. Whatever it is that brought the city to such repute needs to be addressed squarely.
Apart from a national law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors, there is even a redundant city ordinance (City Ordinance No. 544) that further enables the regulation. It appears, however, from the ongoing police probe that the minors were freely loading up on beer in that particular establishment on that particular date where the deadly commotion took place.
An investigation ought to be undertaken by the city government separate from the ongoing criminal probe, with the end in view of assessing the management efficacy of Baywalk and even other public parks such as the Mendoza Amphitheater in ensuring the safety of the public.
Meantime, it makes sense and will serve the ends of justice to the murdered youth last Sunday, that the City Baywalk should be temporarily closed pending an overhaul of its management.