Stressing the importance of protecting children from neglect, abuse and other forms of violence, which negatively impact their development, Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay signed City Ordinance 2017-098, or The Child Protection Ordinance of the City of Makati, following its approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council).
The new ordinance, approved on September 21, prescribes curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily for children below 18 years old and those over 18 but incapable of fully taking care of themselves.
Binay said the ordinance takes effect immediately. She enjoined all barangay chiefs of the city to ensure its strict enforcement in their respective jurisdictions.
“I enjoin all barangay chiefs of Makati and their councils to be at the frontlines in the enforcement of the Child Protection Ordinance of Makati. As elected officials, we all have a duty to protect children from neglect, abuse and other forms of violence, which negatively impact their development,” the lady mayor said.
Among the penalties the ordinance, imposes is the suspension of benefits provided by the city government to parents or guardians of first-time curfew violators should they fail to comply with the requirement to attend a parenting seminar.
Moreover, on the child’s second rescue, the parent or guardian shall be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000 or be imprisoned for not more than five days, or both at the discretion of the court.
Binay, who chairs the Makati City Council for the Protection of Children, lauded the City Council for giving priority to the enactment of the ordinance, which aims to keep children and differently abled adults off the streets and other public places during critical hours.
She also called on parents and guardians of minors to be vigilant and keep track of the whereabouts of their children and to remind them to come home before curfew.
“No matter how busy you may be, always make it a point to know where your children are and who they are with. Their safety and well-being should always be your priority,” she said.
The new ordinance, which amends Section 8.5 of The Makati City Child and Youth Welfare Ordinance (City Ordinance 2004-A-017), declares it unlawful for a parent or guardian to knowingly permit or allow a child to remain in any public place within the city during curfew hours. This includes streets, highways, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, vacant lots, parks, alleys, playgrounds, curbs, gutters, driveways, walkways and public buildings.
Also off-limits to children during curfew hours are common areas in and around churches, apartment buildings, office buildings, hospitals, schools; shops and places of entertainment, such as computer shops, Internet cafés, movie theaters and similar places or establishments; and places of amusement and eating places, whether inside or outside a motor vehicle, or other unsupervised places.
The ordinance provides valid exceptions to curfew hours, such as when the child is accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or other adult person providing care and custody over the child, provided that the child is not being used for any crime or illegal activity.
The child is also exempted when he or she is doing family emergency errands, as well as when the child is going home from work, school or religious-related activity, provided that the child will submit a certificate of attendance from the activity.
On the first rescue, the child will be escorted by authorities to his or her residence and shall be released to the parent or guardian after the latter has presented documents as proof of their identity and relationship to the child.
The parent or guardian and the child rescued shall also sign a written agreement to attend a Parent’s Effectiveness Seminar or other parenting-related seminar, and undergo immediate counseling, respectively.
Parents or guardians who fail to attend the said seminar will be penalized with suspension of their city-sponsored benefits, including the Makati Health Program (Yellow Card), such as free outpatient services, subsidized hospitalization and free medicines.
In the absence of a parent or guardian, the child may be released to any barangay official, Bantay Bayan or Barangay Council for the Protection of Children member. But if the child has no known parent or guardian, the child shall be brought to the Makati Social Welfare Department for the filing of the petition declaring the child as abandoned and neglected.
If the child is a non-Makati resident, he or she shall be temporarily placed in a holding area while necessary effort is being done to locate his or her residence, parent, guardian or relative.
On the second rescue, the child together with the parent or guardian shall be referred to MSWD for the necessary assessment, and intervention and rehabilitation program. Noncompliance with the agreed intervention will qualify the child as a “Child at Risk (CAR) and will give the MSWD an option to file a petition for the child’s involuntary or voluntary commitment in court.
Parents or guardians of children rescued twice or more, after thorough assessment by a professional social worker of MSWD, shall be presumed as committing acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation as provided for under the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (R.A. 7610) and City Ordinance No. 2004-A-017. The social worker or barangay official may then file the corresponding complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor.
The recent passage of “The Child Protection Ordinance of the City of Makati” addressed the deficiencies in some provisions of City Ordinance No. 2004-A-017 pertaining to curfew that have been nullified by operation of law upon the enactment of “The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006” (R.A. 9344) and other related laws.