While some lawmakers and members of the Cabinet have urged the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility, a House committee approved a bill seeking to ban the practice of corporal punishment for children.
House Bill 516, "The Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children Act", authored by Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, was adopted by the House committee on the welfare of children this week.
The draft approved by the committee was the third reading version brought up during the 16th Congress.
Lawmakers had been debating on similar measures since the 14th Congress, committee chair Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu said in a statement.
“Since then, this bill has already gone through a lot of honing. We have consistently transmitted this to the Senate, but apparently they never got the chance to approve it,” Yu said.
The bill, which bans corporal punishment and other “humiliating or degrading punishment”, was built on studies that found that such techniques do not have any clear positive effects on children.
“Most often, corporal punishment only produces anger, resentment and low esteem among children. Furthermore it only teaches the child that violence is an acceptable behavior and become something worthy of emulation,” Herrera-Dy said.
Instead of “traditional” punishment such as spanking, imprisonment, and kneeling on salt, the bill outlined several ways to promote positive discipline.
These include implementing motivational techniques to encourage a child to do good, giving a verbal reprimand, and giving children a “time out” from the things they like to do.
Those who implement corporal punishment on children, including parents, yayas, guardians, teachers, members of the clergy, or anyone in charge of caring for them, are subject to the proposed law.
Those who violate it can be punished under existing penal laws, and can be put under intervention programs by social workers.