A political organization of students has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to review the legality of city and municipal ordinances on curfews, which they described as vague, unjust and repressive.
In their petition, the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) together with their lawyer, Jesus Falcis 3rd, pleaded before the SC to stop the implementation of such “unconstitutional” ordinances of the local government units of Manila, Quezon City and Navotas City.
“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,” Falcis said.
“That is why we are requesting an immediate temporary restraining order against these ordinances while the Supreme Court is deciding on their constitutionality,” he added.
An argument raised against the Manila curfew ordinance, in particular, is that it is contrary to Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.
Spark said the other curfew ordinances are unconstitutional under the doctrine of void for vagueness because they result in arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement; impair legitimate activities of minors during curfew hours; and deprive minors of the right to liberty and the right to travel without substantive due process as well as parents of their natural and primary right in the rearing of the youth also 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,” according to the group’s spokesman Joanne Lim.
The students cited Quezon City Ordinance 2301 of 2014 that imposes a curfew on minors from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and stipulates 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 [village]hall or police station. The parent or guardian will be fined P2,000 or be required to render community service for 48 hours.”
The ordinances, according to Lim, “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.”
As an example, Spark also cited the experience of Clarissa Villegas, a minor, also a student of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila whose classes end at nine in the evening and who travels daily from her school in Manila to her home in Quezon City for almost two hours.
The young student was almost apprehended once by authorities while in the middle of her commute as she was perceived to be violating curfew.