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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Cebu City’s 1957 curfew gets a reboot

INCOMING Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is not in favor of imposing a curfew on minors but said he will give it a chance.

“If that is the order of the president, we will give it a chance to work. But we have so many other priorities than to run after children,” he said.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants to encourage local governments to enforce a 10 p.m. curfew on unsupervised minors, to keep them away from drugs and other crimes, and help them stay sharp in school.

Osmeña explained he wants to focus on two sets of priorities: “reactive” ones that address problems like drugs and traffic, and “pro-active” ones that will help the city grow, such as bringing in more investors.

Still, he said he will try to implement the curfew.

Interviewed separately, Talisay City Mayor-elect Eduardo Gullas said he plans to revive the city’s curfew ordinance.

Supt. Germano Mallari, Talisay City police chief, also expressed support for the proposed revival but pointed out the police may need facilities where curfew violators can be held.

Cebu City’s curfew ordinance was approved last April 12, 1957, when Cebu City was still a municipality.

City Ordinance (CO) 228 makes it unlawful for any minor below the age of 18 to “wander, saunter or loiter on any public or private street, road, alley, park, plaza, wharf, public market, beach or any public place within the city after 12 midnight and before 5 a.m.”

At that time, violators were supposed to be fined P200 or imprisoned for no more than 30 days. Over the years, CO 228 has been amended several times.

One of the amendments made was in 1999.

The City Council passed amendatory CO 1788, which changed the curfew to 10 p.m. until 4 a.m.

It also provided for exemptions. These included minors who have been “emancipated” from parental authority or those who are engaged in a lawful livelihood. Also exempted were minors attending or participating in or going home from scholastic functions or masses during Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Holy Week.

Minors who were victims of emergencies such as fire, flood, earthquake or man-made disasters were also exempted from the curfew.

O 1778 also amended the penalties.

For first offenders, the minor shall be turned over to their parents or guardian or to a brother or sister who is of legal age.

On the second offense, the same procedure will be applied but the parents or guardians or those exercising parental authority will be required to undergo a half-day parenting course.

On the third offense, they will be required to render a seven-day community service.

On the fourth and subsequent violations, the ordinance warrants the filing of charges against the parents or guardians of minors who violated the curfew.

In 2009, the curfew ordinance was again amended. It was the last amendment made on that ordinance. CO 2208 altered penalties.

It included a provision that in the event the parent, guardian, brother or sister of the minor could not be located or known to the barangay officials, the minor will be kept in protective custody in a designated area in the barangay between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

For his part, Gullas told Sun.Star Cebu he has decided to revive the curfew after reviewing its provisions.

The ordinance, enacted in 2002, imposed a curfew on minors from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. It was meant to keep minors away from crime.

Offenders will be required to pay a fine or render community service.

But minors attending scholastic events, commencement exercises, convocations, religious and educational programs, barangay or city fiestas and holidays such as Holy Week, All Souls and All Saints’ Days, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are exempted from the curfew.

Supt. Mallari said that one of their options is to turn over rescued minors to the City Social Welfare Office (CSWO).

It would be up to the CSWO to turn the minors over to their parents.

But Mallari said it would be good for the new City Council to come up with a stronger curfew ordinance, which would include prosecuting the parents of minors who break the curfew.
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