THE photo of two teenage boys that was glued in a portion of the public market of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo has sparked discussion on ways to curb juvenile delinquency.
It also raised questions on the criminal liabilities of the person who exposed the two minors to public ridicule.
On Friday, March 8, 2019, parents of the 13- and 14-year old boys complained that they saw their children’s faces printed on a bond paper.
On top of the close-up photo were the words: Mga Kawatan Kami. (We are thieves.)
One of the boys’ mothers immediately took the paper and headed to the police station to complaint.
A report by RMN-Iloilo indicated that Rufina, mother of 13-year-old Tonton, was devastated upon seeing her son and his friend Mark’s picture posted on the wall of the public market building.
She claimed that before the incident happened, the two teenagers were accused of stealing from a piso-net computer shop allegedly owned by a certain Dave Bantillan.
The two were allegedly caught picking the lock of the coin bank.
Rufina claimed that the children dragged outside the shop, photographed, and manhandled.
At the police station, a policeman and a policewoman allegedly forced the children to admit but the two vehemently denied the acusations.
Rufina said they also went to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office in Barotac Viejo but they were allegedly admonished by a certain Cynthia claiming that she’s not a policewoman nor a lawyer.
They later went back to the police station and was told by a certain police officer Canto to under medical examination.
Rufina said she only wanted justice for the two boys who were shamed and skipped school.
Chief Inspector Joven Arevalo, Barotac Viejo police chief, said the case of the two “shamed” teenagers are not under investigation.
He clarified, though, that his police personnel did not force them to admit to the foiled thievery.
“I was there when they reported the incident. Our two police personnel asked them if there’s truth to the accusation against them and they denied,” he said.
Initially, the boys did not tell police investigators that they were physically battered.
But when they went back in the afternoon, they claimed that they were manhandled.
Arevalo said police officers went to the internet shop to ask Bantillan to shed light on the incident.
But his father claimed Bantillan went back to Iloilo City, as the latter decided not to dwell in the theft case.
“If the parents would want to pursue a criminal case, they are very welcome to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 6 is also verifying the information.