Solons move to ensure minors’ welfare and protection

Lawmakers have filed a bill that seeks to ensure children’s welfare
and protection following reports of growing number of crimes, ranging
from robbery, murder, auto theft and drug-related offenses committed
by minors.

Buhay Party-list Reps. Mariano Michael Velarde, Jr. and William Irwin
Tieng authored House Bill 5671 to promote the general welfare of the
youth and protect them from acts, conditions, or influences that are
prejudicial to their development.

In pushing for the immediate approval of the bill, Velarde cited a
2009 report saying the government called upon mayors in Metro Manila
to deal with at least 233 destructive gangs composed mainly of minors
engaged in drug-related crimes.

“In that same report, a government official said in the third quarter
of 2008 alone, Metro Manila-based youth gangs committed at least 79
serious crimes ranging from robbery, inflicting physical injury on
another person, murder, auto theft, and payroll heists,” Velarde said.

“Cities of Lucena and Bacolod have recognized the problem of minors
frequenting Internet shops during class hours, prompting local
governments to enact ordinances that prevent such vice,” Velarde
added.

The measure, to be known as the Youth Welfare and Protection Act,
shall prohibit school children from loitering in public places outside
their school grounds/campuses during school hours and entering the
premises of all hotels, motels, lodging houses unless accompanied by
their parents/guardians or adult relatives.

“Videoke bars and beer houses shall not allow the entry of minors
whether they are accompanied by parents, guardians, elders or
relatives or not,” Velarde declared.

Under the measure, all newly formed youth organizations must apply
for accreditation from the office of the municipal or city mayor of
that particular place, with the recommendation of its youth and sports
council which is tasked to guide, monitor, and supervise youth
organizations.

“No person shall force, coerce, bully, or deceive any juvenile into
joining any organization, fraternity, sorority, gang, or association.
Recruiters must secure permission from the parents/guardians of the
child/juvenile being recruited,” Velarde said.

Tieng also cited a report from the Health Action Information Network
stating that Filipino youths start drinking alcohol at the age of 16
or 17.

“There are also many cases of children, as young as 12 years old,
already drinking alcoholic beverages,” Tieng said.

The measure also prohibits establishments to sell to a minor liquor
and other intoxicating drinks, tobacco products, illegal drugs, rugby
and other habit-inducing solvents, or pornographic materials, videos,
magazines, books or tapes that are detrimental to the development of a
child.

“Likewise, it shall also be unlawful for any minor  to smoke
cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products; to sniff Rugby or any
habit-inducing solvent;  to drink liquor or any intoxicating drinks;
and to engage in any form of gambling, such as jueteng, lotto, card
games, cara y cruz, and bingo, among others,” Tieng said.

The measure imposes penalties to violators ranging from hours of
community service, fines and penalties, cancellation of business
permit; and appropriate disciplinary action or counseling.

“It cannot be concealed that the youth of the country is beset with
countless social ills.  Evidently, this truth reveals how our youth’s
growth is hampered from becoming productive, responsible, and
nationalistic members of the Filipino community, thus, this bill,”
Tieng said.

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