Proposed law on travel ban for minors under study


A proposed city ordinance entitled Travel Ban for Minors was initially discussed during the recent meeting of the City Council committee on women and family relations chaired by Councilor Edna Dahino.

The objective, Dahino said, is to make a law that addresses the problem and counters child trafficking in this city, since the city has no such law.

During the meeting, acting city police director P/S Supt. Ronnie Francis Cariaga suggested that the scope of the ordinance be expanded. He said it should not only refer to minors in Cagayan de Oro City, but also to those from other places who come to the city accompanied by someone who is not a member of his family.


Cariaga cited one instance when he saw a foreigner with a group of children at Jollibee. P/Supt. Cariaga, who was with another policeman, said they were hesitant to ask the foreigner his relationship with the children, his job and whether he is authorized by the local government to take the children with him in the absence of a supporting law.


IDENTIFICATION CARDS


Cariaga said in some places, people have to present their ID’s, even when buying beer, to show and prove that they are adults. He said this is done in other countries, such that one cannot drink if he is a minor.

A representative from the City Social Welfare Office said in Davao people have to secure documents when travelling with a minor.

“This ordinance should be passed. We must be keen not just to foreigners, but also to Filipinos who are with children not their own, because child trafficking is not easily identifiable with a Filipino culprit,” she added.


Councilor Suzette Magtajas-Daba stressed that the committee should also consider scenarios where the minor is travelling with the mother or the father alone without the other spouse, especially if the spouses are separated. She said it would be considered kidnapping if the accompanying parent travelling with the minor is not the one granted by the court to have sole custody over the child.


The Officer-In-Charge of the WCPD said there were many such instances in Divisoria but they refrain from asking the suspected persons as there is no law that authorizes them to do so.


“Dili ba kaha mi ma-harass ani nga mu-sita ta nga wala may balaod? Kita nga makakita sa foreigner nag duol2x sa streetkids, mataha ta pag sita tungod kay wala ta’y balaod para niana,” the policewoman said.

She shared another incident at Deluxe Hotel, Cogon, this city, where one foreigner checked-in and another foreigner friend brought with him two minors in the hotel. The policemen were able to identify that the girls were minors, thus they immediately acted on the matter, recovered the minors, detained and filed charges against the two foreigners, she reported.


Susan Hermosa of Barangay 2, this city, said she observes that minor girls who are about 14 to 16 years old are being fetched by men in motorcycles at the Divisoria area. “How are we going to prevent this?” Hermosa asked.


Barangay Women representative Dr. Marlene Jongko cited that the proposed ordinance will be helpful to families.


In line with the securing of travel documents, she suggested that the process of such should be made easy.


Councilor Dahino said the report should be an eye opener to everybody.

She said the facts presented to the committee with other inputs and recommendations will be incorporated in the proposed legislation.

Dahino requested the City Legal Office, thru Atty. Delegencia, to provide legal inputs for a more comprehensive ordinance.


Atty. Delegencia said they will have to study the proposed law since it will be imposing sanctions and restrictions on the liberty of minors.

He also added that there are already laws prohibiting foreigners from bringing minors to hotel establishments. “The problem is in the streets because in plain view we cannot establish strong evidence, but we can monitor activities along the streets…” Delegencia said.


HOTELS


P/S Supt. Cariaga cited Luxe Hotel’s very strict policy wherein unmarried spouses are not allowed to check-in. “We should control and regulate the establishments, nga dili sila pwede mag check-in ug mga bata nga dili parente ang kauban, unless otherwise they can present proof,” Carriaga firmly stressed.

Councilor Dahino affirmed and expressed deep appreciation to the owner of an inn in Davao where a “NO INSTANT COUPLE” sign was posted at the receiving desk. She said there should be preventive measures enforced in this city for the minors not to be brought in such places as mentioned.

The committee is now studying and looking deeper into the proposed ordinance, receiving and consolidating inputs and recommendations from the police department, city legal office, and other concerned organizations and agencies. (EF)