A television footage showing about a dozen young boys engaging in a very violent street rumble in the wee hours of the morning in the Lawton area in Manila was such a sorry sight.
While it is a given that their parents must be faulted for not keeping an eye on or disciplining them, authorities in Manila -- barangay, city and police officials alike -- are also to blame.
After all, there is an existing curfew ordinance which prohibits minors from loitering the streets of Manila from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., unless this ordinance had been revoked.
Introduced and in effect during the time of former Mayor Alfredo S. Lim, the said ordinance is specifically aimed at protecting the city’s youngsters, taking much into consideration the fact that if allowed to loiter in the streets at night, these kids face the possibility of ending up either as victims of crimes if not part or even perpetrators of it.
Needless to say, the ordinance was also created to address the problem of kids engaging in gang wars and rumbles which usually occur at late nights until the wee hours of the morning. In addition, kids face the temptation of being lured to vices such as engaging in illegal drugs and illegal gambling, among others.
Under the setup, the police and barangay officials are to be tapped by the city government to aid in disseminating information regarding the mechanics of the said ordinance and having it implemented.
The said measure, City Ordinance 8046, sets a curfew on minors, or those aged below 18. It prohibits them from loitering in the streets, commercial establishments, recreation centers, malls or any other area outside the immediate vicinity of their residence, unless they are accompanied by their parents, family members of legal age or guardians; running lawful errands such as buying medicines; using telecommunication facilities for emergency purposes and the like; students of night schools and those who, by virtue of their employment, are required to stay outside their residence after 10 p.m. or those working at night.
Those either studying or working at night are required to secure a certification from their punong barangay exempting them from the curfew or present documentation or identification proving that they are indeed night students or workers. Violators who are apprehended are supposed to be held at the barangay hall or designated holding center while the parents, relatives or guardians of the minor concerned are being contacted for turnover.
An offender who is homeless, abandoned or neglected, or has no known parent or relative, are to be referred to the custody of the Manila Youth Reception Center or the City Hall’s social welfare department.
First-time offenders are to be sanctioned with reprimand while those exercising parental authority over him will be admonished.
For the second offense, the penalty is reprimand and admonition with a warning about the legal impositions while a third and subsequent violations will be punished with imprisonment of from one to ten days, or a fine of P2,000 or both, depending on the court’s discretion, provided that the complaint is filed with the punong barangay or the office of the city prosecutor.
Barangay officials are to warn the children about the curfew at least one hour before its imposition through warning bells, bullhorns or public address systems.
The said rioting kids in Lawton were shown throwing bottles, rocks and what have you at one another, with one even seen holding what appeared to be a home-made gun.
Imagine the fear they struck among motorists who were passing by the area as these minors, armed with various instruments of violence, ignored them even if they blew their horns long and hard. The kids continued chasing, going back and forth and throwing at one another until the police arrived and rounded them up.
Since they are minors, these kids will simply be turned over to the social welfare department or returned to their parents and before we know it, they are back in the streets doing the same thing.
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