In a place known for its hostility to children who are in conflict with the law, this story is good news.
This is about Budoy, Bert and Richie. They are robbers. They are self-styled experts. The police said they were behind the series of robberies in Talomo area.
They are minors.
The three were arrested a month ago. They have been missing since—at least from their homes after the chief of the Talomo Police, Supt. Dionisio Abude, insisted on not releasing them. They were taken under custody. That one was enforced, even without legal basis which will most likely put Abude in real big trouble.
For a month now, the three were restricted only within the police station. Their world was reduced to the four corners of the station’s kitchen—a world that expands only to their sleeping corner or that small yard at the back. They wash the dishes, sweep the floor, throw garbage, or help prepare the food.
Abude said the three are being punished. They are not prisoners, he stressed, but they must go through it. How to do that, Abude said, is to send the children to school. That is forcible.
In July, Bert, will be entering the fourth grade in a private school.
He said: “I am reformed now. I have forgotten the things that I did in the past. I thank Sir Abude for that. I am very excited to go back to school.”
Bert is fifth in a brood of seven. He is a son of a widow who tries to respond to the needs of her children from what she earns from washing other people’s laundry.
His ‘new life’ has the blessing of his mother.
Richie, on the other hand, wants to become a policeman. He said he does not mind washing the dishes or cleaning the kitchen just so he will be able to become a policeman.
“I want to go back to school because I want to become a policeman…Policeman because I want to help the country.”
Richie had a laugh after saying that. But he, no less, was serious. At his age, he knows that before him is an opportunity that he cannot miss.