Celso supports curfew for children in plenary PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 October 2017 16:54

BY DEXTER YAP

District II Congressman Celso L. Lobregat is supporting the bill which was approved by House committee on welfare of children chaired by Rep. Divina Grace Yu (1st District, Zamboanga del Sur) imposing curfew on children and fining parents or guardians of violators.

Lobregat said that this bill is very important considering that all cities and provinces are having juvenile problems and with a growing number of youth offenders either victims of such consequences for staying outside of their residences even in wee hours of the night.

“This bill is relevant, and even here in Zamboanga City, we need it considering the growing number of minors who recently became victims of sexual abuse, physical attack and even get killed at night,” Lobregat said.

The unnumbered bill titled “Safe Hours for Children Act” prohibits parents or guardians from letting children loiter, roam around, meander or sleep in any public place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. without lawful purpose or justifiable reason. It 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.

Congressman Lobregat said that 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.

Exempted from the law are 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, said Lobregat.

Children reached out by virtue of the Act shall be brought to the barangay office concerned for verification, record and counselling. The bill requires barangay officials to refer to the Local Social Welfare and Development (LSWD) children found in streets, sidewalks, parks, markets, premises of malls or establishments, or any public places during curfew not later than eight hours from the time they are found. They should also immediately notify the parents or guardians of the child.

The bill provides that the LSWD immediately endorse the care of a child found during curfew hours to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children or the Barangay Violence against Women and Children desk officer.

The bill prescribes proper conduct for law enforcers when apprehending curfew violators. The law enforcer should present proper identification to the child and explain in simple language or dialect understandable to the child why he or she is being brought to the barangay office.

The solon said that law enforcers are prohibited from using vulgar or profane words; displaying or using any firearm, weapon, handcuffs, or other instruments of force; and using unnecessary force or intimidation on the child unless absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted or have failed.

Any public officer tasked to implement the Act but violates it shall be punished with imprisonment of one month to six months, and temporary suspension from public service. The violator shall also be held administratively liable under existing applicable laws.

Lobregat said that 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.

The Department of Interior and Local Government, in consultation with the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, CWC, National Youth Commission and DSWD shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulation of the Act. – Dexter Yap