Source: Save The Children
Save the Children Philippines is calling on local officials to adhere to existing laws on the proper treatment of children and youth. This follows a string of reported violations against children found to be out of the home outside of curfew guidelines under the Enhanced Community Quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Albert Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines expressed grave concern on the reports of cruel, and degrading treatment of minors who were being arrested for allegedly violating the government’s emergency measures to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In Pampanga, a 15-year old boy was reportedly arrested last Sunday along with three LGBTQI+[i] individuals for violating curfew guidelines. According to reports, the LGBTQI+ individuals were forced to kiss and dance as a humiliating form of punishment.
“Children’s right to protection from all forms of violence should be a priority,” said Muyot. “Likewise, the rights of LGBTQI+ should be respected at all times.”
“We call on all local government officials to adhere to the Joint Memorandum Circular issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Council for the Welfare of Children that clearly defines the procedure in handling children who are caught violating the quarantine guidelines,” he added.
The circular mandates that no penalty shall be imposed on children who are caught violating the quanratine, instead they should be brought to their place of residence or released to the custody of their parents. This is in line with Section Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare.
Meanwhile, two children were also locked in a coffin in Cavite on March 26 as punishment for violating curfew rules. Local officials also placed five young people inside a dog cage on March 20 in Santa Cruz town in Laguna Province for violating curfew rules.
Four boys and four girls were also reportedly arrested in Binondo, Manila, on March 19 for violating the curfew. Local officials were reported to have forcibly cut the hair of seven of the children while the one who resisted was stripped naked and ordered to walk home.
Save the Children Philippines believes that local officials have a duty to implement curfew guidelines as part of the Enhanced Community Quarantine but these measures must be in accordance with applicable laws protecting the rights of children.
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[i] The LBGTQI acronym stands for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer and Intersex. The + sign denotes the acceptance of all other sexual and gender identities.