ILOILO City – The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) plans to go tough on the parents or guardians of children in conflict with the law or those rescued from abusers and exploiters such as sex and even drug traffickers. The root of the problem is “family gid ya,” according to Police Chief Master Sergeant Ruth Laudato of the city police’s Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD).
This time, the Iloilo City Parental Responsibility Ordinance would be strictly enforced, said Laudato.
The ordinance holds parents or guardians liable for their children’s illegal activities, abuse or exploitation.
Last week 14 minors were rescued at the Iloilo Terminal Market for violating the curfew ordinance.
“We really have to go back to the family, especially the parents who have the primary responsibility for their children. Dapat maintindihan ini sang parents,” said Laudato.
In Jaro district, two parents have been issued with warrants of arrest for parental neglect, she revealed.
Rara Ganzon, City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) focal person, suggested an amendment to the curfew ordinance for minors, specifically the penalties for parents.
Regulation Ordinance No. 2006-020, which amended Regulation Ordinance No. 2011-676 (Curfew on Minors), set the curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. of the following day.
“Most parents of the erring minors are poor. Mahibi man lang sila kag mag-sorry. I suggest community service as penalty for both negligent parents and erring children. They could come up with something good from this,” said Ganzon.
She also agreed that the Iloilo City Parental Responsibility Ordinance be enforced strictly.
According to Ganzon, the CSWDO’s Crisis Intervention Unit already rescued around 5,000 minors (abandoned, abused, children-in-conflict of the law, etc.) since 2010.
The ICPO-WCPD, on the other hand, rescued 603 children (violation of the curfew ordinance) from January to Sept. 9 this year.
Last year, it helped a total of 1,244 children.
The Iloilo City Parental Responsibility Ordinance took effect January this year.
Under this ordinance, anyone may report a negligent parent or guardian to the CSWDO, WCPD or to the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC).
In line with the Family Code of the Philippines, the ordinance mandates the BCPC to investigate in coordination with the concerned barangay captain with the goal of coming up with solutions that uphold the best interest of the child.
If the BCPC could not resolve the matter, it must be referred to the City Legal Office.
The ordinance lists the following acts as violations:
* allowing the child to sell, buy or use illegal drugs as defined by the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002
* willfully allowing the child to join gangs or knowingly allowing the child to be subjected to violent initiation rites or prohibited hazing by fraternities or sororities inside or outside the school
* in case of parents of children in conflict with the law and/or children at risk, the deliberate non-cooperation with authorities or obstruction of the procedures of the diversion and intervention program provided for by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006
For these acts, the negligent parent or guardian faces a fine of P3,000, P4,000 and P5,000 for first, second and third violations, respectively.
“The Iloilo City government has ongoing efforts to protect the interest of a child from reckless, careless and negligent parents, to shield them from dangerous or predatory situations arising from such irresponsibility, and to maintain the city government’s status as a child-friendly city,” reads part of the ordinance which covers all persons exercising all types of parental authority and responsibility over children in this southern city.
Other neglectful acts listed in the ordinance are:
* allowing the child to ride an overloaded tricycle, whether for hire or otherwise
* permitting the child to engage in gambling and other vices or harmful practices
* allowing the child to buy intoxicating drinks which will be consumed by the parents or those exercising parental authority
* allowing the child to vape and to sell, buy, smoke cigarettes or tobacco products prohibited under the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003
* failing to present the child to health centers for pre-natal and post natal care and basic immunization services
* knowingly depriving the child access to mental health services as well as sexual health services
* failing to register the child in the civil registry within one month from birth
* deliberately failing to monitor the child’s attendance in school, and failing to attend, without justifiable grounds, school meetings and assemblies
According to Councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda, the ordinance author, there was a need to localize the liability of parents to re-instill their vital role in the development of their children in the light of gang wars, violations of the city’s curfew ordinance and the like.
The Iloilo City Parental Responsibility Ordinance acknowledges that the father and mother jointly exercise parental authority and responsibility over their children.
However, in case of death, separation, absence or unsuitability of the parents, parental authority and responsibility shall be either exercised by the parent designated by the court or by the surviving grandparent.
In default of parents or absence of a judicially-appointed guardian, those who shall exercise substitute parental authority over the children are – in this order – the surviving grandparent; the oldest brother or sister, over 21 years of age, unless unfit or disqualified; and the child’s actual custodian, over 21 years of age, unless unfit or disqualified.
In case of foundlings, abandoned, neglected or abused children and other children similarly situated, parental authority rests on the heads of children’s homes, orphanages and duly accredited similar institutions./PN