Proposed curfew on children hurdles House committee level
The measure seeking to impose a 10-to-5 curfew on children has gained the approval of the House of Representatives’ committee on welfare of children, the chamber’s media bureau said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
This sends the unnumbered bill, with the title “Safe Hours for Children Act,” on its way to debates and amendments at the House plenary, one step closer to passage.
The committee approved the unnumbered bill on Monday to substitute House Bill No. 894, authored by Quezon 4th Dist. Rep. Angelina Tan.
The measure seeks to prohibit 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.”
Third and succeeding violations are penalized with a fine of P500 to P1,000 or community service for five to 10 days.
The bill exempts children accompanied by either a parent or a guardian, those dismissed from classes late in the evening and traveling between school and house, and those involved in an emergency.
Other exemptions include children engaged in authorized employment or going home “without any detour or stop,” and those attending an official school, religious, recreational, educational, social, community, or other organized activity sponsored by the government, school or other private civic organization.
Children “reached out” by authorities under the measure will be brought to the barangay office for verification, recording and counseling.
Barangay officials will be given eight hours to refer to the Local Social Welfare and Development office the children who are found in the streets, parks, markets, malls, or other public places at curfew time. They should also immediately notify the parents or guardians of the child.
Meanwhile, the LSWD will have to immediately endorse the care of a child to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children or the Barangay Violence Against Women and Children desk officer.
Proper conduct for law enforcers includes proper identification, and a simple and understandable explanation to the child as to why he is being brought to the barangay office.
Under the measure, law enforcers are prohibited from using profanities, displaying firearms, weapons or handcuffs, and using force or intimidation on the child “unless absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted or have failed.”
Violations by public officers will be penalized with imprisonment of one to six months and temporary suspension from public service, as well as related administrative sanctions.
The Council for the Welfare of Children, in consultation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, is tasked with coming up with protocols for “reaching out” to children found during curfew hours.
The bill is co-authored by Reps. Gus Tambunting, Divina Grace-Yu, Ma. Lourdes Aggabao, Strike Revilla, Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez and John Marvin Nieto. /jpv