The local government administrators of Cagayan de Oro have just made it clear to the general public that they are eager supporters of change in the country. Exactly 29 days before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte took his oath as the country’s 16th president, the city, through its local council, has already started implementing a curfew for minors as soon as classes resumed last June. Since teenage curfew is among the list of rules and regulations that the Duterte camp intends to execute nationwide as soon as the new administration begins, the local council of CDO did not hesitate in bringing back the 1994 city codified ordinance, which prohibits children aged 15 and below from roaming around the city from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM without an adult companion.
Under the headship of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) of Cagayan de Oro, in partnership with the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) and the barangay officials, the local government unit of CDO has ordered a city-wide teenage curfew through the reinstatement of City Ordinance No. 4373-94. According to City Social Welfare Officer Teddy Sabuga-a, the goals of the teenage curfew are as follows: to strengthen parents’ responsibility over their children and to ensure that children are protected from becoming delinquents. The ordinance is also set to help maintain peace and order around Cagayan de Oro City. To make the newly reinstated law effective, the CSWDO has already sought the help of the DILG to disseminate guidelines and to enforce the rule among barangay officials.
Revisions in the 22-year Old City Ordinance
As stipulated in Section 485 of City Ordinance No. 4373-94 (Chapter 108: Curfew for Minors), no person aged 15 years old and below is allowed to roam “nightclubs, cocktail lounges, massage clinics, beer houses, discotheque joints or saloons, cabarets or liquor stores or stands, gambling places, plazas, parks, recreation halls, billiard halls, parlors, bowling alleys, theater lobbies, sidewalks, hotels, and all other similar establishments” after 10 PM and before 5 AM the following day. This curfew ordinance is expected to be followed strictly except during special occasions (Charter Day, Christmas Day, New Year, etc.). Teenagers who have just showed up for and are about to go home from social occasions, religious gatherings, civic events, or classes are exempt from the curfew.
Under the penalty clause of this rule, as written in Section 486, all minors who violate the curfew will be fined not less than PHP 500.00 and not more than PHP 1,500.00 or be imprisoned for not less than 1 month and 10 days and not more than 4 months, or both be fined and imprisoned depending on the rulings of the court. But, as what Sabuga-a cited, the penalty section of the old city ordinance is in conflict with the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (R.A. 9344). Therefore, the city council must change the fines and punishments of the law in order to comply with both R.A. 10630 and R.A. 9344. As suggested by Sabuga-a, it would be better if the punishment will be in the form of community service, since not all parents have the financial capacity to pay the fines.
Updated Teenage Curfew Guidelines
In executing the curfew for minors in the city, the following guidelines are mandated to be followed:
-The barangay, through its Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) and tanods, is given the right to rescue children during curfew hours.
-All rescued children are required to be recorded in the barangay level blotter or police station blotter.
-All barangays should have a halfway house, which will serve as a temporary shelter or place of rest for rescued children.
-Every rescued child should be interviewed by an authorized staff from the BCPC who has received training from the CSWD regarding the Rights of the Child.
-Rescued children have to be released to their guardian or parents after they have undergone counseling. For those children whose parents can’t be found, they shall be turned over to the CSWD.
Apart from the barangay officials, local police stations in the city are also playing a vital role as the prime protectors of the child. They will be actively participating in rescuing minors during curfew hours.
Sabuga-a is positive that the city-wide curfew for minors will be successful as long as the parents, development workers, schools, and other organizations will cooperate. He said, “we all need to work together to make this a sustainable campaign and we need all the help we can get, after all, this is for the protection of our children.”