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House bill seeks 10 p.m. national curfew for minors

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House bill seeks 10 p.m. national curfew for minors
Members of the Manila Police District Station 11 conduct profiling on 28 residents, including eight minors, after they were temporarily detained at a covered court in Binondo, Manila on Aug. 19, 2021 for violating the curfew hours in line with the prevailing enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — A bill at the House of Representatives  is proposing to implement a curfew on minors for their protection and to maintain public order.

Under House Bill 1016 filed by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon Party-list), curfew hours will be from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. She filed a similar bill in the 18th Congress.

"The bill seeks to mandate and strictly implement a set of hours during night time within which minors are prohibited from remaining outside of the home not only as a means of maintaining public order and safety and preventing the further rise in criminality but also in order to protect minors from potential threat that may arise in the remote environment which may be harmful or detrimental to their developmentm” Herrera-Dy said. 

The proposed “National Curfew Act” allows several exemptions, like when a minor is with their parents or a guardian or during emergencies.

Minors will not be penalized for being out beyond 10 p.m. if they are on the way home or are going to a party, graduation ceremony, religious activities, or other school or government-sanctioned event but will have to provide proof that the event is allowed.

In 2018, police and local authorities cleared streets of 'tambay' or loiterers, a move that rights group Karapatan said was "patently illegal" and exposed people to the risk of illegal arrest. Loitering was decriminalized in 2012.  

READ: 20 things you need to know about the 'anti-tambay' drive 

Over 8,000 individuals were arrested for Duterte’s so-called "crime prevention program," which the Human Rights Watch said targeted the poor.

In 2020, when the Philippines imposed one of the world's stringest lockdown measures, the Department of Interior and Local Government issued its own advisory on how to deal with minors who have violated quarantine protocols to also protect children from being exposed to violence.

Custody procedures

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 simple language and in [the] dialect that he/she can understand" and inform them of their rights. 

“A child in conflict with the law shall only be searched by a law enforcement officer of the same gender and shall not be locked up in a detention cell,” the bill read. 

Law enforcement officers are prohibited from using profane language and they are also not allowed to show and use their firearms or other weapons, “unless absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted and have failed.”

The child’s custody will then be immediately, but not later than eight hours after being apprehended by the officer, transferred to the Social Welfare and Development Office or other accredited non-governmental orgnanization.

Penalties

All of the erring minor’s statements must be signed in the presence of their parent or guardian once they fetch the child. Parents or guardians may face penalties such as being required to participate in at least 48 hours of community service and/or pay at least a P2,000 fine.

On the second violation, both the parent or guardian and child will be required to attend regular counselling sessions with the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children. 

Meanwhile, a child caught out during curfew for the third time may be given an intervention by the local Department of Social Welfare and Development through counselling and "proper disposition on the matter."

"Habitual violators" may be turned over to the DSWD "for counseling and be subject to the intervention program." — Kaycee Valmonte with reports from Xave Gregorio

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MINORS

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