MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued an advisory dated June 23 on how to handle children who violate quarantine rules, and how to identify different levels of risks in children that may require additional forms of protection.
The DILG said these guidelines were designed to lessen the transmission of COVID-19 while also protecting the children from violence.
Children’s rights groups such as Save the Children, Plan International, and ChildFund Alliance earlier released several calls to protect children at risk during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.
Upon encountering children outside their homes during community quarantine, barangay officials and law enforcers are required to, among others:
- Explain to the child in simple language why he/she is being brought to the barangay
- Properly identify himself/herself and present proper identification to the child
- Refrain from using vulgar or profane words, and from sexually harassing the child
- Avoid displaying or using any weapon, handcuffs, or other instruments of force or restraint, unless “absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted but to no avail”
- Avoid violence or unnecessary force
- Immediately endorse the child to the barangay women’s and children’s desk
- Immediately inform the child’s parents or guardians, and turn over custody to them
The advisory detailed how to identify a child’s risk level, if applicable. These include children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL) as defined by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.
CARs include those who are abused, exploited, abandoned, out of school, from a dysfunctional family, or living in a high-risk community.
Meanwhile, CICLs are children under the minimum age of criminal responsibility of 15 who have committed an offense under Philippine laws. (READ: Children deal with abuse, fears of coronavirus in ‘Houses of Hope’)
The advisory also includes “children in street situations,” who depend on the streets to live and/or work, whether alone, with peers, or with family.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued an advisory regarding the guidelines in handling children who violate curfew and quarantine rules during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. pic.twitter.com/NGxCM6OGM8
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued an advisory regarding the guidelines in handling children who violate curfew and quarantine rules during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. pic.twitter.com/NGxCM6OGM8— Department of Justice (DOJ) (@DOJPH) July 6, 2020
The DILG and the Council for the Welfare of Children issued a similar Joint Memorandum Circular on April 6 on protocols on reaching out to street children, CARs, and CICLs during enhanced community quarantine.
Various reports have emerged of authorities inflicting punishments on minors who violate quarantine rules – some of which human rights groups said were “uncalled for.”
On April 5, a barangay captain in Pampanga made LGBTQ+ quarantine violators do lewd acts in front of a minor as punishment.
In Laguna, minors were ordered to reenact their quarantine offenses “with feelings” on camera by a man alleged to be a police chief.
In cases of abuses committed by authorities against children, the Ateneo Human Rights Center said the minors, as represented by their legal guardians, could opt to file for criminal charges for possible child abuse.
The Commission on Human Rights could also independently investigate the matter. – Rappler.com
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