BAGONG Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette R. Herrera-Dy strongly appealed yesterday for the prioritization of a bill penalizing corporal punishment on children, stressing that the Davao City death of a three-year-old boy who suffocated inside a sack presents one of the many strong arguments for the measure.
Herrera-Dy re-filed House Bill (HB) No. 516 or the “Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children Act” as she noted a “dangerous rise” in incidence of cruel punishment imposed on minors, many of them documented in the Internet.
The most recent ended the young life of Kean Gabriel, a two-year-old boy from Matina Pangi, Davao City.
The child died of suffocation after being placed inside a sack by stepfather, Sonny Boy Mendoza, as punishment for being “makulit” (pesky).
Criminal charges were 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,” explained Herrera-Dy.
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.
HB 516 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 humiliation 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.
On the other hand, the bill promotes certain techniques of positive and non-violent discipline such as beat-the-clock, praises to recognize good behavior and grandma’s rule.
Beat-the-clock is a motivational technique for the child’s competitive nature while grandma’s rule allows the minor to do what he or she pleases but only after accomplishing the task given by parents or elders.
HB No. 516 proposes as penalties the imprisonment of violators in the maximum period that is provided under Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploiting and Discrimination Act.