CLB reminds LGUs, law enforcers to uphold rights of children caught violating quarantine rules

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - CDN Digital | August 12,2020 - 02:04 PM

Cebu City policemen escort two minors caught violating the curfew imposed by the Cebu City government. Meanwhile, the Lapu-Lapu government is mulling a harsher strategy by charging the parents of minors violating the city’s curfew ordinance. |CDN Digital file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — As local government units move to heighten the enforcement of sanctions on quarantine violators, a children’s rights advocate groups reminded authorities to follow the guidelines in the proper handling of minors involved in quarantine violations.

In Cebu City, which continues to have the highest number of active cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the city government is set to implement the imposition of criminal sanctions for quarantine violators such as those who are not wearing face masks, leaving their homes without quarantine passes, and attending mass gatherings.

READ: Quarantine violators will be penalized up to P5K starting August 16

Children’s Legal Bureau, in a statement released on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, said it is not far-fetched that other LGUs will follow suit in implementing the policy as part of the measures to ensure strict observance of quarantine protocols.

The group, however, reiterated that during the implementation of quarantine protocols, children’s rights should be protected especially when it concerns the minor’s risk of acquiring the infection.

“There are several reports involving children allegedly violating quarantine protocols that have surfaced since the implementation of community quarantine guidelines. It was, however, observed that duty bearers have failed to observe the established protocols in handling children who may have committed infractions,” CLB spokesperson lawyer King Anthony Perez said.

Quoting an advisory of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in June, CLB said the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) has reported numerous complaints to the department about law enforcers who did not follow the rules in handling children as set by the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act.

The Juvenile Justice Welfare Council earlier issued specific guidelines in handling children who have allegedly violated curfew or quarantine guidelines.

Under the JJWC guidelines, a law enforcer must properly identify himself and inform the child why he needs to be taken to the barangay center without the use of harsh, disrespectful or foul language as well as subjecting the child to sexual harassment.

The guidelines also directs that the child violator shall be endorsed to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) or Barangay Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) desk officer.

The child’s parent or guardian will then be asked to appear in the barangay. The custody of the child will be given to the parent or guardian but the BCPC is directed to continue to monitor the child after his release to his parents to avoid another violation In the future.

“High risk” children or those who have previously committed two to three violations or those or have previously involved in prostitution, mendicancy, use of rugby, or other circumstances that would show a child’s vulnerability and risk to exploitation shall be endorsed to the Local Social Welfare Development Office for assessment and which is mandated to assess and implement necessary intervention programs for the child.

The JJWC also directs law enforcers to follow the guidelines of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act in handling children who are apprehended for non-quarantine related violations which allows the use of diversion measures that would prevent the child from being detained considering the still-rising number of cases of COVID-19.

“The Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), consistent with its vision to bring a just world for children, would like to remind all duty bearers both at the local and national levels, to respect child rights and follow the existing guidelines in dealing with children who have violated quarantine rules,” the CLB said. /bmjo

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TAGS: Barangay Council for the Protection of Children, children's rights, Children’s Legal Bureau, Juvenile Justice Welfare Act, King Anthony Perez

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