A coalition that champions children rights has signified strong support for a legislation still pending in the House of Representatives which seeks to regulate the access of minors to computer shops and Internet cafes.
In a position paper, Child Rights Network (CRN) expressed full support toward the passage of House Bill No. 4740 or the “Internet Café Regulation Act”, which was authored by Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian.
CRN is an alliance of 20 child-focused non-government agencies (NGOs) advocating for the passage of national laws that will protect and fulfill the right of Filipino children.
While recognizing children’s right to information access, CRN said precautionary measures must be taken to regulate minors from going in and out of computer shops, particularly those located near schools.
“Some harmful effects of video gaming are the child’s exposure to violence, setback in school performance, (and) problems with money, among others,” CRN noted.
“These consequences can be mitigated through regulating the entry of children in establishments that offer gaming services,” CRN suggested.
The child-friendly network also said HB 4740, which aims to protect children from the harmful effects of cyberspace and mass media, is in line with Article 17 Sec. 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
UNCRC, which was ratified by the Philippine Government in 1990, states that: “States Parties shall encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material harmful to his or her well-being.”
If HB 4740 is passed into law, owners of computer shops will be prohibited from admitting minors during school hours and during schools days, subject to the determination of the Department of Education (DepEd) and other concerned government agencies.
Under the bill, minors shall also be prohibited in entering computer shops between 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. unless accompanied by their parent or guardian.
Establishment found violating said prohibitions shall be fined an amount of around P50,000 to P150,000 and may have their business permits be revoked.
The bill is still being heard in the House of Committee on the Welfare of Children. (Tim Alcantara)