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Barangay revives curfew for minors

First Posted 11:42:00 03/13/2008

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CEBU CITY, Philippines - In an effort to curb nighttime crimes, barangay Pahina Central in Cebu City is again strictly implementing a curfew ordinance, resulting in the detention of seven minors last Tuesday night.

Ray Bebot Galas, head of the Children?s Justice Committee of barangay Pahina Central, said the curfew stipulated in City Ordinance 1786 prevents children 17 years old and below from loitering in the streets from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. It was reimplemented due to news of increasing robbery incidences and violent encounters between street gangs.

The minors rounded up last Tuesday were brought to the barangay hall for questioning before they were sent home.

Galas said the curfew ordinance was passed in November 2002, but its enforcement was stopped last year with the passage of Republic Act 9344 or the The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, which decriminalizes offenses committed by children 15 years old and below.

An increase in the number of offenses committed by minors, however, prompted the barangay to enforce the curfew within its jurisdiction, though limited only to escorting the children back to their homes and not arresting them.

Barangay councilor Sonny Gonzales yesterday said most complaints come from residents living along Climaco Street, where 50 to 60 gang members, mostly minors, hang out at night.

Since December, at least 15 cases of robbery were reported in the barangay, three of which were pulled off by minors, Gonzales said.

Last Monday, barangay officials conducted an information drive at Internet cafes, bars, and other nighttime establishments in the barangay that the curfew would again be enforced.

Barangay councilor Edison Roy Batiquin said the reimplementation of the curfew was a first in Cebu City since the passage of RA 9344.

He said he hoped that other barangays would follow Pahina Central?s example.

Galas said children caught violating the curfew for the first time would be taken to the barangay hall for questioning, then escorted home.

On the second offense, the child would again be brought to the barangay hall, then the his or parents? attention would be called. On the third offense, parents would be asked to undergo counseling. On the fourth offense, charges would will be filed against the child?s parents.

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