VAGRANT MINORS | QC cops, barangays, set to resume implementing ‘discipline hours’

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QC cops, unaccompanied minors
Quezon City police process unaccompanied minors picked up for vagrancy. Photograph: QCPAISO

The Quezon City government on Thursday advised parents and guardians of minors to comply with City Ordinance 2301-2014, also known as the Quezon City Discipline Hour Ordinance for Minors, and urged them to ensure that their children/wards are home by 10 p.m.

The effectivity of Discipline Hour lasts from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. next morning.

“Although we have yet to receive an official copy or transmittal from the Supreme Court regarding its ruling on the matter, where the Quezon City ordinance was deemed constitutional, we interpret it to mean that there’s nothing wrong in implementing the Discipline Hours,” City Administrator Aldrin Cuña said during Thursday’s regular meeting of the Quezon City Peace and Order Council.

The discussion on the Supreme Court ruling, which was announced Tuesday, prompted Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, Director of the Quezon City Police District, to also order the city’s police station commanders to commence implementing the city ordinance.

Eleazar reminded law enforcers to follow the directive of Mayor Herbert Bautista to make sure that the conditions set by the Ordinance are followed and that human rights are fully safeguarded when implementing Discipline Hour.

Mayor Bautista on Tuesday night thanked the Supreme Court for affirming the legality of the city’s ordinance imposing curfew for minors.

“We can now implement the Discipline Hour Ordinance in Quezon City. The 142 barangays will now ensure that the provisions of the Ordinance are judiciously enforced with full consideration of human rights,” Mayor Bautista added.

The constitutionality of City Ordinance 2301-2014 was questioned before the high court in July last year by a group called Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan, together with similar ordinances from the cities of Manila and Navotas, after which a temporary restraining order was issued.

During the high court’s deliberation on Tuesday (8 August 2017), the justices ruled in a decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe that City Ordinance 2301-2014 is constitutional and compliant with guidelines.

The ordinance stipulates that “the parent or guardian of the curfew violator will be penalized for allowing the minor to go out during this period, either ‘knowingly or by insufficient control”.

City Ordinance 2301-2014 was enacted in response to complaints about the rising number of unaccompanied minors roaming the streets, endangering motorists or getting involved in street crimes and illegal drugs.

The measure, however, exempts minors who are in public places but are accompanied by their parents or guardians.

Also exempted are minors who are on their way to or from their school activity or organization, where their attendance are required or otherwise indispensable.

Another exemption are young people who participate in activities sponsored or permitted by the city, barangay, school or other civic or religious group.

Minors on board a vehicle with their parents or guardians are also exempted from the discipline hours, including those engaged in authorized employment activity or are enrolled in evening classes.

A minor found violating the curfew for the first time will be referred to the nearest barangay hall or police station. The parent or guardian will be fined P2,000 or be required to render community service for 48 hours.

For the second violation, the parent or guardian will be penalized with a fine of P3,000 or 72-hour community service. Third and subsequent violations carry a fine of P5,000 or a prison term of six months.

Minors who habitually violate the curfew will be turned over to the Quezon City Social Services Development Department for counseling.