FOLLOWING the death of a two-year-old boy in Davao City, a party-list solon underscored the need to approve a measure seeking to penalize corporal punishment of children.
Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy urged her colleagues in the House to prioritize House Bill 516 or the “Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children Act.”
Herrera-Dy was alarmed over the increasing incidents of cruel punishment imposed on minors, many of them documented in the Internet.
Just recently, two-year-old Kean Gabriel from Matina Pangi, Davao City, died when he was suffocated inside a sack. His stepfather, Sonny Boy Mendoza, placed him in the sack for being annoying or “makulit.”
Criminal charges are set to be filed against Mendoza and the boy’s mother, who was tagged as the suspect’s accomplice, for failing to stop her husband from subjecting Kean Gabriel to “barbaric physical punishment.”
A child rights activist, Herrera-Dy said there is a strong possibility that Kean Gabriel’s life could have been saved had Congress passed the bill prohibiting adults from subjecting children to physical and mental violence that includes corporal and cruel punishment.
“Corporal punishment is very common in the Philippines. The most abusive acts were those inflicted by parents in the name of discipline,” the female solon said.
She noted that “confinement in a sack” aside from slapping or hitting the child has been among the more common methods of punishment imposed by parents and other adults on an “errant” minor.
“Filipino children also experience threats of physical punishment and humiliating treatments such as being shouted at in front of others, labeling and denigration,” Herrera-Dy lamented.
The bill proposes to strengthen the country’s laws, policies, and programs in respecting the child’s rights, human dignity, physical integrity and equal protection of law in compliance with the Philippine’s obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Under the bill, corporal punishment refers to cruel and unusual punishment or act that subjects the child to indignities and other excessive chastisement or subjecting the minor to physical punishment.
Among the proposed prohibited acts are forcing the minor to kneel on stones, salt or pebbles; squatting, deliberate neglect of child’s physical needs, imposing tasks that minor is incapable of doing, slapping, pulling hair, shaking, twisting joints, dragging or throwing a child and imprisoning or tying up the victim.
The bill bans subjecting the child to humilitation or ridicule or belittling the minor in front of people.
Kicking, beating up or whipping the child with a belt, broom, cane, stick or other objects are also prohibited.