Cebu group to authorities: Handle juvenile quarantine violators with care
CEBU CITY – A group that envisions “a just world for children” has called on authorities to exercise caution in handling minors accused of violating the quarantine protocols.
The Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), a non-governmental organization based in Cebu City, said children should be protected at all costs and the detention of minors shall be the last resort because it is contrary to their best interests.
“CLB, consistent with its vision to bring a just world for children, would like to remind all duty bearers both at the local and national levels, to respect child rights and follow the existing guidelines in dealing with children who have violated quarantine rules,” it said in a statement.
Starting August 16, Cebu City residents arrested for violating quarantine protocols will face stiff penalties as stipulated in a city ordinance.
Violators will be fined P1,500 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense and P5,000 for the third offense or 30 days’ imprisonment, depending on the discretion of the court.
Since those below 21 years old were mandated to stay at home while quarantine measures are in effect, CLB said there is a possibility that some minors will be apprehended for violating the health protocols.
The group said a barangay official or law enforcement officer shall explain to an arrested minor, in the language understood by him or her the reasons why the minor needs to be brought to the barangay hall.
“Officers dealing with the child shall refrain from using harsh, disrespectful, or foul words, as well as subjecting the child to sexual harassment especially when arrested for curfew violations,” CLB said.
Officers, it added, shall also avoid showing their weapons and handcuffs to the child and refrain from using any force.
A minor who gets apprehended must be endorsed to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) or, in its absence, to the Barangay Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) desk officer.
“The parents or the guardian of the child shall be immediately informed regarding the incident involving the child violator and ask for their presence in the barangay or the place where the violation took place,” CLB said.
The custody of the child, the group stressed, shall be given to the parent or guardian.
If the BCPC has no information regarding the parent or guardian of the child, he or she may be endorsed to the Local Social Welfare and Development Office (LSWDO).
The BCPC is mandated to monitor the child after its release to avoid future infractions, CLB said.
Under Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, “a child 15 years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability.”
The child will undergo an intervention program by government agencies.
A child above 15 years but below 18 years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he or she has “acted with discernment.”
Social workers are tasked to determine whether or not a minor offender acted with discernment in allegedly committing the crime.
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