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BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on third and final reading a proposed ordinance regulating the operation of computer shops and internet cafes in the city, and providing penalties for violations and for other purposes.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Betty Lourdes F. Tabanda states that among those covered by the proposed measure include any business establishment with more than one computer unit offering for a fee, services, including email, game chatting, surfing, research and other services which requires the use of computers or access to the internet and other business establishments which offer a combination of services such as food and internet, recreation and other similar activities requiring the use of computers and access to the internet.
Under the proposed ordinance, an owner or operator of a computer or internet shop or internet café shall secure the necessary permits with the City Permits and Licensing Division prior to the start of the business; the Permits and Licensing Division shall have the sole and exclusive discretion on how to categorize a computer or internet shop or café; the owner or operator of a computer or internet shop or café shall provide closed circuit television cameras with play back abilities that are readily available to the authorities for inspection and safety purposes; the hours of operation of the shops are from 6 am to 10:30 pm and an additional 30 minutes for closing of their shops; children 7 years of age and below shall only be allowed entry if accompanied by an adult or any guardian and shall only use a computer for academic or school purposes until 6 pm only; children 8 to 12 years old are only allowed in the shops until 7 pm daily even if accompanied by an adult; minors 13 to 17 years old are only allowed in the shops until 9 pm daily even accompanied by an adult; persons 18 years old and above are allowed to stay in the computer shops until closing time; minors shall not be allowed in the premises of the said establishments during class hours unless accompanied by a teacher or student authority; prohibited substances, drugs, alcohol, liquor, beer, or any intoxicating drink, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes shall not be allowed in the said shops; all shops should be well ventilated, kept clean, and a well sanitized condition to ensure the health and safety of the clients; all shops must not use fully enclosed cubicles for every computer; establishing offering the use of web cameras must not allow it users to use it for obscenity or lewd designs; all shops shall not tolerate in descent, lewd or immoral behavior inside the establishments and an operator or owner must allow the establishment to be inspected by concerned authorities.
Any violation of the provisions of the ordinance shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 and suspension of the permit for one month for the second offense, and P3,000 for the third offense.
When there is probable cause to believe that the parent or guardian induced a minor to engage in internet pornography, the City Social Welfare and Development Office shall temporarily assume the custody and parental authority over the minor.
The ordinance stipulates that the equipment used in the production or showing or printing of pornographic materials shall be confiscated by the members of the Baguio City Police Office in the presence of representatives from the City Mayor’s Office and the same can be used as evidence in court.
By Dexter A. See