City task force on lookout for minors on Valentine’s

Photos courtesy of Nestor Canong / DG file

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

As Valentine’s Day rolls on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, Iloilo City’s Task Force on Morals and Values Formation (TFMVF) said it was on alert for minors entering short-stay accommodation establishments in an effort to curb teenage pregnancies.

TFMVF chief Nestor Canong told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on Saturday that they have been preparing for the day since after the 2023 Dinagyang Festival and went full mode after the 2023 Jaro Fiesta ended last week.

He said that their order from Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas was to “protect teenagers from unfortunate futures” this coming Tuesday.

They will start their operations today, February 13, and will be on alert until Thursday, February 16.

He added that they want to combat teenage pregnancies, saying that the city has the highest cases of teenage pregnancies in Panay Island, but he did not cite exact data.

“We have youngsters who, at times, may exploit their innocence, especially the [girls] who may be pushed by their boyfriends or partners, take them to places where they shouldn’t be, and change their futures badly,” Canong said.

The TFMVF’s coverage for this year includes motels, lodging houses, beach resorts, and other similar establishments “which accept customers for short-time stays” and “accept partners where bad things happen”.

Canong said that they are monitoring around 21 establishments, particularly in Arevalo district which has between 11 or 12, including lodging houses, pension houses, inns, hotels, motels, apartelles and other similar establishments in the city.

He said that their general directive was to implement City Regulation Ordinance No. 2015-447, which regulates the operation of these establishments.

The ordinance explicitly prohibits minors from entering these establishments, with security personnel directed to inspect every vehicle entering their premises.

Persons entrusted with their operation are mandated to report any possible violations to law enforcement units and the city and barangay governments.

Failure to report will result in a ₱5,000 fine as well as 1-year imprisonment for the owner, manager, or any person entrusted with the operation of these accommodation places.

Taxi operators and drivers are also being actively engaged to be mindful of driving minors to lodging areas.

Canong said that they may also push for the ultimate revocation of the establishments’ business permits should they be found to be actively harboring the short stay of minors.

“Security guards must be alert because they are the ones entrusted by owners to check [the transport]. We have requested them to check private vehicles with darker tints. Usually February 13, 14, 15, and 16,” he said.

The TFMVF, Canong said, will be assisted by the Women and Children’s Protection Desks of the Iloilo City Police Office as well as other law enforcement groups, to carry out their operations for this week.

He said that they have been catching minor couples and charging motel operators with cases even during the COVID-19 pandemic.