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House panel approves bill seeking curfew for children

The House Committee on the Welfare of Children approved on Monday a bill that seeks to impose a curfew on children from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and slapping fines on parents or guardians of violators.

In the still unnumbered bill titled "Safe Hours for Children Act," parents or guardians are prohibited to let their children loiter, roam around, meander or sleep in any public place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with no lawful purpose or justifiable reason.

The measure seeks to ensure the safety and self-esteem of children and protect them from abuse and exploitation.

The bill will substitute House Bill 894 introduced by Quezon Representative Angelina Tan.

Parents or guardians of children who will violate the law for the third time or succeeding offense will be slapped with a fine of P500 to P1,000 or render community service for five to 10 days, or both.

Not covered by the provisions of 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; and
  • going to or returning home from such activity without any detour or stop; or dismissed from their classes late in the evening.

Children caught violating the law will be brought to the concerned barangay office for verification, record and counselling.

Barangay officials will then be required to refer the children to the Local Social Welfare and Development (LSWD) not later than eight hours from the time they were found loitering in public areas during curfew.

The LSWD should then endorse the care of the children to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children or the Barangay Violence-against-Women-and-Children desk officer.

The bill prohibits law enforcers from using vulgar or profane words, display or use firearms, weapons, handcuffs or other instruments of force, use unnecessary force or intimidation on the child unless absolutely needed and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted or have failed.

Officers who violate the provisions of the law will face punishment of one to six months imprisonment and temporary suspension from public service, as well administrative liabilities under existing laws. — MDM/KVD, GMA News