Youth group ask SC to end ‘unjust curfew policies’

A newly-established political organization of students filed a formal petition before the Supreme Court seeking to end the vague, unjust and repressive municipal curfews directed at the youth.

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) together with their legal counsel, Atty. Jesus Falcis III, asked the high court to issue a certiorari and prohibition of the implementation of the ordinances of the local government units of Manila, Quezon City, and Navotas on the basis of its unconstitutionality (as quoted from the SC petition):

·The Manila curfew ordinance is ultra vires for being contrary to Republic Act No. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

·The curfew ordinances are unconstitutional under the doctrine of void for vagueness because it results in arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.

·The curfew ordinances are unconstitutional because it suffers from overbreadth by proscribing or impairing legitimate activities of minors during curfew hours.

·The curfew ordinances are unconstitutional because it deprives minors of the right to liberty and the right to travel without substantive due process.

·The curfew ordinances are unconstitutional because it deprives parents of the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth without substantive due process.

“We are filing for and on behalf of the all young citizens who also have the right to be contributing members of society without being threatened by undue punishment and possible instances of overreaching from authorities like the police,” said SPARK Spokesperson Joanne Lim.

“We are also crying foul on the unjust detention of the youth’s parents if their children are apprehended during curfew hours,” Lim added.

Lim was referring to Quezon City Ordinance No. 2301 of 2014 implementing a curfew on minors from 10pm to 5am. The said ordinance stipulated that “the parent or guardian of the curfew violator will be penalized for allowing the minor to go out during this period, either ‘knowingly or by insufficient control.'”

As penalty, the ordinance decreed that “a minor found violating the curfew for the first time will be referred to the nearest barangay hall or police station. The parent or guardian will be fined PHP2,000 or be required to render community service for 48 hours.”

“As we have previously mentioned, these ordinances are implemented without due consideration of various important factors such as housing conditions of affected areas, hardships encountered in transportation and the late shifts experienced by affected students,” Lim stated.

The petition recounts the experience of Clarissa Villegas, a minor, also a student of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila whose classes end at nine in the evening at travels daily from her school in Manila to her home at Quezon City for almost two hours Villegas was almost apprehended once by authorities while in the middle of her commute as she was apparently in violation of the curfew policy.

Presumed to be engaging in malicious activity, petitioner Leo delos Reyes and Ronnel Baccutan were also approached by village watchmen when they were only on their way home from school and engaging in legitimate activities.

“We cannot neglect the rights of the citizens, most specially of the children and youth even if this administration’s primary concern is the pursuit of peace and order,” said legal counsel Atty. Jesus Falcis III. “That is why we are requesting an immediate temporary restraining order for these ordinances while the Supreme Court is deciding on its constitutionality.