CURFEW reminds me of Martial Law when everyone in Metro Manila was expected to be inside the house at 10 p.m. As a college student there, I remember how affected my friends and I were. We used to go nightclub-hopping and came home in the early morning.

But we still found a way to find life under the ML curfew law.

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For one, we went on with our bash through the curfew night. Our get-together was like in parties. A party would be hosted by us at a time, heating up at 10 p.m. when the curfew bell rang out. At curfew time, we would have tuned-down the music, the lights and the laughter, but still connected with each other although we stayed inside the house and went on more quietly until past midnight. Then the guys would look for comfortable chairs downstairs while the girls went up to the rooms in the house, all to sleep.

It was, in fact, more fun. And the laugh was on the dictator, the subject of our gossip.

Nothing has been written in the Internet about a foreign woman friend of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. But I do remember how we’d whisper about a gossip of Marcos singing a song in Ilocano to her. In fact, one of the guys was able to get a copy of the tape of the conversation and the song which went the rounds, especially among journalists at that time.

Despite the “fun” we had, we knew that Marcos’s curfew was to persecute, not protect, the ordinary citizen.

The kind of curfew you get depends on who’s behind it and for what reason. And the enforcement is what makes the difference, too.

In reducing an unprecedented rise in crimes throughout the US, the officials in state and local governments undertook legalizing and enforcing of curfew laws, precisely in the early 1990s, from year 1988 when juvenile homicide cases grew by 55 percent and aggravated assault by 80 percent, among other crimes.

The lawmakers in the province and cities look at the imposition of curfew among the young as one way of cutting down crimes mostly committed by youngsters, also mostly victimizing the young.

As it is, without the youth curfew, how does it look? A friend simply put it in a description of an early morning ride on her bike. She said she would rush away from groups of sleepless boys in side streets who are still screaming, laughing drunk way past 5 in the morning. They should be home asleep, she said.

But what do you mean by “youth?” This must be set, for one thing. Is it age 15 down or age 30?

The first curfew bell in ancient times was for everyone to sleep at 8 p.m. This meant, everyone—young or old—would come home, cover their fires, or put the burning logs off, actually so that destructive fires would not happen in times when all houses were made of dry timber. And people would sleep early in the ghastly dark outside, centuries before the costly decorative lamp posts came into our life.

The curfew as proposed these days for some towns and cities is something else. In most cases, it is for minimizing the crime count, if it works.

In Cebu City, there has been a wave of crimes by juvenile criminals on young victims.

What we need is a youth curfew, say some Cebu officials of the government. In the experience of American cities, most of the places with curfew laws say the law does reduce crimes. Or officials in 88 percent of the cities claim so.

But the question remains, whether curfews for the young protect or punish him. The law must be clear, in terms of age and circumstances, for instance, such as exemptions for those in night jobs, etc.

What about the right to assemble for a cause, a human rights person would ask.

Then there are other circumstances that would make curfew laws different from the usual. Or the curfew time could be other than what we know. In Madison County, crimes were seen to happen between 8:30 in the morning and 2 p.m., thus the youth curfew’s subject of time is in the morning in a daytime juvenile curfew.

Yes, there are more than a few things to do that must go with the implementation of the youth curfew. Then when these are set, let’s see the juvenile crimes reduce, hopefully.

(ecuizon@gmail.com)