MANILA, Philippines — A bill in the House of Representatives proposes to put in place a curfew on minors for their protection and to maintain public order.
Under Bill 1016 filed by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bong Henerasyon party list), curfew hours will be from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. She introduced a similar bill in the 18th Congress.
“The bill seeks to impose and strictly enforce a set of hours during the night during which minors are prohibited from remaining outside the home, not only as a means of maintaining public order and safety and to prevent a further increase in crime, but also in order to protect minors from potential threats that may arise in the remote environment and which may be harmful or detrimental to their development,” said Herrera-Dy.
The proposed “National Curfew Law” allows for several exemptions, such as when a minor is with their parents or guardian or in an emergency.
Minors will not be penalized for being out past 10 p.m. if they are on their way home or on their way to a party, graduation ceremony, religious activities, or any other school event or sanctioned by the government, but will have to provide proof that the event is authorized. .
In 2018, police and local authorities cleared the streets of ‘tambay’ or loiterers, a move which human rights group Karapatan said was ‘blatantly illegal’ and put people at risk of illegal arrest. Vagrancy was decriminalized in 2012.
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More than 8,000 people were arrested for Duterte’s so-called “crime prevention program,” which Human Rights Watch said targeted the poor.
In 2020, when the Philippines imposed one of the strictest lockdown measures in the world, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government issued its own advisory on how to deal with minors who violated quarantine protocols. to also protect children from exposure to violence.
Under Herrera-Dy’s proposed bill, minors who violate the proposed curfew will be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer, who is required to identify themselves as such to the child. The officer will then explain their violation “in plain language and in [the] dialect he can understand” and inform them of their rights.
“A child in conflict with the law may only be searched by a law enforcement officer of the same gender and shall not be confined in a holding cell,” the bill states.
Law enforcement officers are prohibited from using profane language, nor are they permitted to display and use their firearms or other weapons, “unless absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted and failed”.
Custody of the child will then be immediately, but no later than eight hours after being apprehended by the officer, transferred to the Office of Social Welfare and Development or another accredited non-governmental organization.
All the declarations of the offending minor must be signed in the presence of his parent or guardian as soon as he picks up the child. Parents or guardians may face penalties such as being required to participate in at least 48 hours of community service and/or paying at least a P2,000 fine.
In the event of a second offence, the parent or guardian and the child will be required to attend regular counseling sessions with the Barangay Board for Child Welfare.
Meanwhile, a child caught during curfew for the third time may benefit from intervention by the local Department of Social Welfare and Development through counseling and “appropriate provision”.
“Habitual offenders” can be turned over to the DSWD “for counseling and be put through the intervention program.” — Kaycee Valmonte with reports of Xavier Gregorio