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Philippines may get new law: Ensure kids are out of streets during curfew or face fines

Children may soon be prohibited from being on streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. under a proposed law at the House of Representatives. STAR/Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino parents would be soon required to become more responsible with their kids and ensure that their children would not be on the street between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. under a bill being considered by the House of Representatives.

If the bill is signed into a law, parents or guardians of children found on streets and violating the statute for the third time would be required to pay between P500 and P1,000 or render community service from five to 10 days.

The unnumbered bill titled, "Safe Hours for Children Act," prohibits parents or guardians from letting their sons and daughters from loitering, roaming, meandering or sleeping in any public place from 10 in the evening to five in the morning without any lawful or justifiable reason.

The bill aims to ensure the "safety and self-esteem" of children, prevent criminals from using them in illegal activities and protect them from abuse and exploitation, according to Rep. Angelina Tan of Quezon City's District 4, one of the authors of the measure.

Children can be allowed to be in public place during this time if they are accompanied by either their parent or guardian, traveling from school or work, engaging in an authorized employment activity, involved in an emergency situation or attending an official school, religious, recreational, educational, social, community activity or others organized by the government, school or private organizations.

They may also be allowed to be outside their homes if they are on their way home from lawful activities or are dismissed from their classes late in the evening, according to the measure.

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If caught, children would be brought to the local village for verification, recording and counseling. Within eight hours, the village officials should then forward the children to the Local Social Welfare and Development and notify the concerned parents and guardians.

The LSWD will then immediately endorse the child caught during curfew hours to the Village Council for the Protection of Children or the Village Violence against Women and Children desk officer.

The bill also requires apprehending law officers to present their identification and explain to the child in an understandable language the reason why he is being brought to the village office.

Law enforcers are prohibited from using vulgar or profane language, displaying or using any firearm, weapon, handcuffs or other instruments of force and using unnecessary force or intimidation on the child unless necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted, according to the proposed law.

Any public officer who would violate the measure would be punished with an imprisonment of one month to six months and be temporarily suspended from public service, according to the bill.

The violator will also be held administratively liable under existing laws.

In consultation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Council for the Welfare of Children should come up with a protocol that will guide the arrest of children caught during the curfew hours, according to the law. It added that the guidelines should be in accordance with Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act.

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