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Philippines plans curfew for minors to combat drug menace

Proposal comes in the wake of deaths of children in anti-drug campaign

Gulf News

Manila: A proposal setting a nationwide curfew for children is expected to be enforced soon with fines for parents of violators.

Called the “Safe Hour for Children Act” the measure would also be enforced amid reports that drug pushers are already using minors as drug couriers in their effort to evade the government’s tight enforcement on laws against prohibited substance under the Duterte administration.

The Safe Hours for Children Act prohibits parents or guardians from letting children loiter, roam around, or sleep in any public place from 10pm to 5am without lawful purpose or justifiable reason. It aims to ensure the safety and self-esteem of children, prevent them from being used to commit crime, and protect them from abuse and exploitation.

Based on Philippine law, individuals below the age of 18 are considered minors or children.

Under the measure, parents or guardians of children violating the Act for the third time or succeeding offences shall pay a fine of P500 to P1,000 or render community service for five to 10 days, or both.

Some cities and municipalities have their own ordinances concerning curfew on children but once enacted the impending measure would make it restricted for children to remain in the streets between 10pm and 5am unless under certain circumstances. These exemptions are when the children are chaperoned or accompanied by either parent or guardian; travelling or commuting between school and abode; engaged in an authorised 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 organised activity sponsored by the government, school or other private civic organisation; going to or returning home from such activity without any detour or stop; or dismissed from their classes late in the evening.

Likewise, the measure prescribes proper conduct for law enforcers when apprehending curfew violators.

The curfew measure comes in the aftermath of deaths during drug operations by minors such as 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.

The death of Santos in the hands of police in Caloocan City drew public outrage and served as a wake up call for parents that their children could be counted among the body toll in the government drive against drug addicts and syndicates.