THE Baguio City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance amending Ordinance No. 50, series of 2009, further amending Ordinance No. 271, series of 1995, otherwise known as the Baguio City Curfew Ordinance.

Authored by Councilor Elaine Sembrano, the proposal states as a measure to protect children from crime, violence and harm, children should not loiter, roam or play on the streets, roads, plazas, parks, internet shops or cafes, amusement or gaming facilities or other public places or establishments in the city between 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The prevailing curfew for minors in the city is from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., pursuant to existing local ordinances.

For purposes of the proposed amendatory ordinance, a child or children is defined as a person or persons below 16 years of age.

On the other hand, an adult purporting to be their guardian, parents or authorized custodian within the third degree of relationship, either by consanguinity or affinity, shall be penalized under other applicable laws and ordinances once they allow their wards to loiter, roam and play around the city during the prescribed curfew hours.

Likewise, the ordinance stipulated internet cafes or shops or amusement gaming facility owners or managements, who allow a child or children to loiter in their establishments during the prescribed curfew hours shall be meted out the new fines and penalties, specifically a fine of P3,000 for the first offense; P5,000 for the second offense; and closure of business establishment or non-renewal of business permit of the concerned establishment for the third offense.

The ordinance will take effect pursuant to the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

Sembrano said the proposed amendments will be introduced to the existing curfew for minors is intended at addressing the recent developments wherein children are required to conduct researches in their studies, thus, they are obliged to stay in the internet cafes to do their respective homeworks considering that some of them do not have internet connections in their residences.

It has been observed even with the prescribed curfew for minors which is scheduled at around 7 p.m., minors continue to loiter, roam and play around establishments and public places wearing their school uniforms without being apprehended by concerned police authorities and personnel of the City Social Welfare and Development Office.

Students have complained that the 7 p.m. curfew for minors provided under existing ordinances is too early considering that there are also some educational institutions that dismiss their afternoon classes close to the scheduled curfew that is why they are often seen loitering, roaming and playing around the city’s public places and that in most instances, they are often apprehended by authorities while going to the designated terminals of jeepneys to go home. (Dexter See)