Group calls for stop to cruel, degrading treatment of children violating curfew

A boy wears a mask as protection against the coronavirus 2019 disease. (Photo by Lei Tapang/Save the Children)

Save the Children Philippines is calling on local officials to adhere to laws on proper treatment of children and youth who violate curfew guidelines under the Enhanced Community Quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, expressed grave concern on the reports of cruel and degrading treatment of minors who were arrested for violating the government’s emergency measures to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“Children’s right to protection from all forms of violence should be a priority,” said Atty. Muyot. “Likewise, the rights of LGBTIQ+ should be respected at all times.”

In Pampanga, a 15-year old boy was arrested last Sunday, along with three LGBTIQ+ individuals for violating curfew guidelines. The minor was made to witness a sexy dance and kissing of the LGBTQI+ individuals as punishment.

Four boys and four girls were also arrested in Binondo, Manila last March 19 for violating curfew. Local officials forcibly cut the hair of seven of the children while the one who resisted was stripped naked and ordered to walk home.

Local officials also placed five young people inside a dog cage last March 20 in Sta. Cruz town in Laguna Province for violating curfew rules. In Cavite, two children were also locked in a coffin last March 26 as punishment for violating curfew rules.

“We call on all local government officials to adhere to the Joint Memorandum Circular 2020-001 issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Council for the Welfare of Children that clearly defined the procedure in handling children who are caught violating the ECQ guidelines,” he added.

The circular mandates that no penalty shall be imposed on children who are caught violating the ECQ, instead they should be brought to their residence or the barangay official at the nearest barangay hall to be released to the custody of their parents. It is in line with Section Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

Save the Children Philippines believes that local officials have the duty to implement curfew guidelines as part of the Enhanced Community Quarantine but these measures should be in accordance with applicable laws protecting the rights of children.