MANILA, Philippines – A bill that would make it unlawful for parents or guardians to allow children to loiter, roam around, or sleep in a public space between 10 pm to 5 am without a valid reason passed the House committee on welfare of children.
The bill “aims to ensure the safety and self-esteem of children, prevent them from being used to commit crime, and protect them from abuse and exploitation,” according to a release from the House of Representatives. The previous House Bill 894 defined minors or children as any person below 18 years old.
“Parents or guardians of children violating the Act for the third time or succeeding offenses shall pay a fine of P500 to P1,000 or render community service for five to 10 days, or both,” said the House in a release on Tuesday, September 26.
Exemptions from the curfew include:
- children chaperoned or accompanied by either parent or guardian;
- travelling or commuting between school and abode;
- engaged in an authorized employment activity or going to or returning home from the same without any detour or stop;
- involved in an emergency;
- attending an official school, religious, recreational, educational, social, community, or other organized activity sponsored by the government, school or other private civic organization;
- going to or returning home from such activity without any detour or stop;
- or dismissed from their classes late in the evening.
Kids caught breaking the curfew will be brought to the barangay office for verification, record, and counseling. Barangay officials are then required to bring the child to the Local Social Welfare and Development (LSWD) within 8 hours from the time they are found. The child’s parents or guardians will also be alerted.
The LSWD, in turn, will endorse the care of the child to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children which is under the Barangay Violence against Women and Children desk.
Law enforcers, according to the bill, will be tasked to apprehend curfew violators. They are required to present proper identification to the child and explain in understandable terms why the child will be brought to the barangay office. They are not allowed to use vulgar words; display or use firearms, handcuffs or other “instruments of force; and are not allowed to use “unnecessary force or intimidation… unless absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted or have failed.”
Public officers proven to have done otherwise face imprisonment from one to 6 months and temporary suspension. They will also be held administratively liable.
The possible law’s implementing rules and regulations will be crafted by the Interior Department in coordination with the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), National Youth Commission, and DSWD.
“The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), in consultation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), shall come up with a protocol to set the standard and provide a common framework for the conduct of reach-out to children found during the curfew hours. The protocol procedures shall be in accordance with Republic Act No. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act, as amended by RA 10630,” says the bill.
Bill authors include Parañaque City 2nd District Representative Gus Tambunting, Zamboanga del Sur 1st District Representative Divina Grace Yu, Cavite 2nd District Representative Strike Revilla, ALONA Representative Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez, and Manila 3rd District Representative John Marvin Nieto. – Rappler.com