Cotabato City

Cotabato mayor orders curfew on minors amid rising concerns over motorcycle racing

Rommel Rebollido

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Cotabato mayor orders curfew on minors amid rising concerns over motorcycle racing

VISIT. Cotabato Mayor Bruce Matabalao visits a minor injured in a motorcycle racing accident at a hospital.

Cotabato City government

Violators face sanctions such as hours of community service, with their parents being subjected to mandatory counseling

KORONADAL, Philippines – Authorities have imposed a curfew on minors in response to public concerns about the problem of motorcycle racing in Cotabato City.

City hall has warned that no one younger than 18 years old, resident or not, is allowed to loiter in the streets of Cotabato during specific nighttime hours. Violators face sanctions such as serving hours of community service.

The curfew, aimed at addressing the city’s persisting problems involving minors, has been enforced from 9 pm to 4 am daily, referred to as “discipline hour” by authorities.

Cotabato Mayor Mohammad Ali “Bruce” Matabalao issued Executive Order 110 on Tuesday, March 19, after many residents complained about unabated incidents of motorcycle racing along the city’s streets.

On Tuesday night alone, hours after the order was issued, the police rounded up 17 minors and turned them over to barangay officials in Rosary Height 3, said Major John Vincent Bravo, chief of Cotabato’s Police Station 1.

Teresita Guiguiento, a retired government worker, told Rappler that the noise created by motorcycle racers disturbs their sleep in the wee hours.

“Masyadong maingay, hirap na makatulog ulit (It’s so noisy, it makes it difficult for us to go back to sleep),” she complained.

In one incident during a race along the national highway, a child was hit by a motorcycle near the city hall. The minor, who was an onlooker, ended up in the hospital with hand and leg fractures. The race participant, also a minor, sustained a gaping wound to the face, said Almendras Rinabor, chief of the City Public Safety Office (CPSO).

Matabalao said his executive order did not violate the constitutional rights of the youth, citing Article 2, Section 5, which guarantees, “The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.”

He said the city government was compelled to make such a move to give law enforcers a basis to apprehend minors who were out in the streets at night, engaging in illegal acts and disturbing the peace in the city.

Cotabato Councilor Gabby Usman, chairman of the city council’s committee on public order and safety, said Matabalao’s order would also bolster the campaign to curb the local drug problem.

The executive order was timely because of the resurgence in illegal drug activities in the city, where some minors are reportedly involved, Usman said.

But for some, Matabalao’s order deprives minors of the chance to enjoy the nightly Ramadan celebration in the city as many Muslim families would usually go out at night to pray in mosques and dine.

The order provides that the curfew hours are to be imposed “under any circumstances,” except when minors require emergency medical attention.

Jeff Mendez, a local sports organizer, said the EO prevents minors from participating in the ongoing Ramadan Volleyball Friendly League games in the city.

Mendez nevertheless posted on social media, “Minors are advised to go home early and observe the discipline hours.”

Rinabor said first-time offenders would be detained in barangay halls and would only be released to their parents or guardians who personally fetch them.

He said second-time offenders would be detained and made to undergo eight hours of community service under the supervision of social welfare officers before being released to their parents or guardians.

Third-time offenders, according to Rinabor, would be detained and subjected to 24 hours of community service under the supervision of social welfare officers. 

He said they can only be released after the minors and their parents or guardians submit to counseling and guidance by the Office of Social Welfare and Development of the local government. –

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