The city police has expressed alarm over the rise of youth gangs allegedly responsible for street brawling incidents, burglary, robbery, and gang rape of heavily drunk teen girls.
This, after joint operatives of the Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO) Station 1 and the city government’s Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTF) arrested on June 18 seven members of the Scorpion gang involved in a brawling incident with the members of their rival group Pantera.
PPCPO Station 1 chief P/Lt. Ray Aron Elona said the gang war in a billiards bar along Malvar Street erupted because the Scorpion group wanted to avenge a member who was beaten by the Pantera a few days ago.
Seven members of the Scorpion gang were placed under the custody of the PPCPO Station 1.
Elona said five of them were of legal age and two were minors.
He explained that they were also released because they had already resolved the matter, warning the Scorpion gang members to keep out of fights.
“Actually, ‘yong mga ganito naire-report sa amin pero kasong pang-barangay like for example slight physical injury… pang-barangay ‘yan. Ang ginagawa namin sa side namin sa PNP, ini-issue-han namin sila ng clearance. Kailangan nilang mag-attend ng hearing sa barangay kasi kapag hindi sila nagkasundo, bibigyan namin ng recommendation to file action ang barangay going to the police saka pa sila masasampahan ng kaso,” he said.
But in the case of the recently arrested gang members, he reiterated they were able to resolve the matter.
Elona said that when they checked the cellular phones of the youth offenders during their investigation, they were surprised to find nude pictures of young girls, including the video clip of one who was heavily drunk and being sexually assaulted by unidentified teen boys.
He said they could not identify if the persons on the “sex video” are members of the Scorpion gang because only the face of the girl being sexually assaulted was exposed.
“Under custody namin sila, nakuha namin ang cellular phones nila may nakita kaming sex video… sa video di nakikita ‘yong mukha ng limang lalaki ‘yong babae lang. Na-identify na namin ‘yong babae pero ayaw na niyang makipagtulungan sa amin. Hindi din natin makumpirma na miyembro ‘yon ng Scorpion gang ‘yong nasa video hindi naman kasi nakikita nga ang mukha,” he pointed out.
“Makikita naman natin sa video na hinahawakan ng ibang lalaki ‘yong babae habang pinagsasamantalahan ng isa. Nakakaawa kung titingnan. Meron pang isa naman na kinunan ng picture habang halos walang malay,” Elona added.
Aside from the sex video, there was also a video showing the members using marijuana while drinking alcohol, Scorpion members beating two young boys who were just passing by a bakery store in Abanico, and another showing them hurling stones towards members of another rival gang.
Aside from Scorpion, the other youth street gangs that have been identified are Crow Zero and Alpha Planet.
He also confirmed that some of the members of the gang are students of the Palawan National School (PNS), while most are out-of-school-youths (OSYs).
Elona said these gangs are now under their watch to prevent urban violence.
Meanwhile, city information officer and ACTF chief Richard Ligad said they gave “enough time” for the teen girl who was allegedly in the sex video to come out and file a case, but so far, she has not come out.
“Nagbigay tayo ng leverage… ng enough time para lumabas at magsampa ng kaso pero wala namang lumalabas. To avoid it from happening again, we need everyone’s cooperation and help para wala ng mabiktima. Sino ba ‘yong mga pakalat-kalat…’yong talagang andoon sa kalsada, babae man o lalaki,” he said.
Based on their probe, Scorpion gang was organized by a group of teens from a Japanese television series where members fight it out with a rival school group.
“Maaaring akala nila maganda ‘yong ginagawa noong mga napapanood nila o sikat sila… pero dito, iparamdam natin sa kanila na may batas at hindi puwede ‘yong ganoon na ginagawa nila,” he also said.
City government reacts
In reaction, Ligad said the city government will start the strict implementation again of the 10:00 p.m. curfew ordinance or minors on the eve of June 21.
Ligad said the curfew should be implemented to prevent the youth from getting involved in crimes.
City Ordinance No. 544 or the “Code of General Ordinances of the City of Puerto Princesa” approved by the City Council in February 2013 holds that any minor violating the curfew for the first time “shall be taken into custody and kept in police station premises or under the care of the social services department and shall only be released not later than 2:00 p.m. of the same day they are apprehended.”
It also stated that if there is a valid reason to hold them under further detention, they will be remanded to a confinement area.
Second and subsequent violations, it says, can mete “imprisonment of not less than three days nor more than five or a fine of not less P300 nor more than P600 or both for every violation at the discretion of the court.”
“Ito ay instruction kasi ni mayor (Lucilo Bayron) kung ano ang paraan para matulungan ang pulisya na hindi dumami itong mga gang ng mga mapusok na kabataan. Nakita natin itong ordinance na ito at hiningi naman natin ang approval, eh, na-approve naman sa strict implementation,” Ligad told Palawan News on Friday.
He said strict implementation will be carried out by the PPCPO Stations 1 and 2 and the ACTF.
Ligad said there will be a meeting with barangay officials next week to get their help in monitoring youth gangs in their areas to prevent them from perpetrating crimes and getting involved in urban violence.
“Kasunod na ‘yan. Ipapatawag natin next week ang mga barangay officials para makuha natin ang suporta nila, lalo na sa monitoring ng mga kabataang ito nai-involve sa violence,” he stated.