Cotabato City

Nightly Ramadan activities prompt Cotabato mayor to lift curfew on minors

Rommel Rebollido

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Nightly Ramadan activities prompt Cotabato mayor to lift curfew on minors

RAMADAN LIGHTS. The Bangsamoro Government Complex in Cotabato City lights up on the night Ramadan started on Tuesday, March 12. Ferdinandh Cabrera/Rappler

Ferdinandh Cabrera/Rappler

Cotabato Mayor Bruce Matabalao orders law enforcers to crack down on those involved in motorcycle races and go strict on minors driving without licenses

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad Ali “Bruce” Matabalao has reversed his decision to impose a curfew on minors just a day after announcing it. Instead, he ordered law enforcers to crack down on those involved in motorcycle races in the city and go strict on minors driving without licenses.

Matabalao said on Wednesday, March 20, that he reconsidered his position after realizing that only a few minors were involved in street racing in the city, while many others would miss out on family time at night in the predominantly Muslim city. 

With the curfew lifted, minors in Cotabato City can enjoy their evenings with their families and take part in the nightly community activities again in time for Ramadan.

Matabalao said he also noted that many minors are involved in nightly Ramadan sports events, and their teams need them.

His decision to take back Executive Order 110 came barely 24 hours after he signed it.

“I am lifting Executive Order 110. Puwede nang lumabas sa gabi ang mga minors (Minors can now go out at night),” Matabalao said on late Wednesday afternoon, March 20.

During the annual Ramadan, Cotabato City, the capital of the Bangsamoro region, becomes vibrant at night with festivities. Muslim families have a variety of fairs and exhibits to choose from for iftar (breaking of the day-long fast) and can enjoy leisurely Taraweeh prayers afterward.

At the same time, Matabalao issued Executive Order 114, which strictly prohibits minors from driving motorcycles at any time and anywhere in the city. EO 114 also bans drag racing within Cotabato City.

Local officials pointed out that there is an existing national law that sets 16 years old as the minimum age to possess a driver’s license. In some localities, however, minors younger than 18 years old are not allowed to drive motor vehicles.

Matabalao issued an executive order on Tuesday, March 19, imposing a seven-hour nightly curfew on minors that starts at 9 pm. The move was in response to public concerns about the problem of motorcycle racing in Cotabato City.

He explained that he issued the Tuesday order because he was angered by an incident involving a 12-year-old child. The child ended up in the hospital with fractured limbs and arms after being hit by a participant in a motorcycle race, who is also a minor. Reportedly, both minors had sneaked out of their respective homes.

Matabalao, however, said the sanctions provided in his Tuesday order would be imposed on those caught participating in motorcycle races.

Almendras Rinabor, head of the Cotabato City Public Safety Office (CPSO), said those behind the recent street race were already identified, including three of four motorcycle drivers. 

Aside from the injured racer, a 15-year-old, four others are minors and one is an 18-year-old.

Rinabor said the five were instructed to do community service next week at city hall.

Cotabato Councilor Gabby Usman said the city already has an ordinance that prohibits drag racing in the city, which the police can use as a basis to prevent such dangerous activities.

“Had the police and other traffic enforcement units been vigilant enough, there would have been no drag racing in the city, and no one would have been hurt,” Usman said.

Usman said the Cotabato City police director would need to explain why the motorcycle races were taking place at night and in the wee hours under the noses of the city’s law enforcers. –

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