House approves bill to promote positive, non-violent discipline among children

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez with kids from Taguig City

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez with a couple of kids from Taguig City during the campaign trail last May 2013. #TaguigCity

The House of Representatives on Tuesday has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill promoting positive and non-violent forms of discipline among children.

House Bill 4907, also called the Positive Discipline Act, seeks to protect the children against corporal punishment and to secure an environment that fosters positive reinforcement of children’s behavior to facilitate learning and growth.

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, who co-authored the bill, lauded the passage of the proposed legislation saying this will help secure the safety and well-being of children in their homes, schools and communities.

“Effective and positive discipline establishes the foundation for children to learn self-discipline, protects them from dangers of harsh or violent discipline and help instill in them the value of self-control and responsibility,” Gutierrez said.

“We strongly discourage parents and guardians to discipline with sticks, which, in the long run, may prove counterproductive, for both parents and children,” he added.

The measure prohibits all forms of corporal punishment, humiliating or degrading chastisement to children like kicking, slapping, pulling hair and dragging. It also forbids the use of threats to force children to perform physically painful or damaging acts such as kneeling on stones, refusal to provide the child’s physical needs and tying up a child.

Verbal abuse, swearing or cursing, and making a child look or feel foolish in front of one’s peers or public are also outlawed.

The penalties under existing penal laws shall be imposed in the maximum period or arresto mayor in its maximum period, except where a higher penalty is provided for under Act 3815, or the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended, or under Republic Act 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act.

Prosecutors are also advised to refer the accused to the local Social Welfare and Development Office (SWDO) for assessment and interventions if the penalty imposed for the act is only arresto menor or arresto mayor. Suspected transgressors will then undergo seminars and counseling on children’s rights, positive and non-violent discipline of children, anger management, and referrals to other rehabilitative services.

“Through this bill, we hope to instill a nurturing environment where young Filipinos will grow, explore and develop into productive citizens and future leaders,” Gutierrez concluded.###

Akbayan calls on Aquino to use remaining period of his term to establish a stronger human rights governance

Photo from Team Barry

Today we are pleased to join the rest of the country and the world in celebrating the International Human Rights Day and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of protecting and promoting human rights, freedom and dignity.

Building on the gains

This year, we celebrate our collective gains as a nation in providing redress to the victims of Martial Law who, after decades in limbo, are finally being recognized and given due reparation through the convening of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) under RA 10368. As of November, the Claims Board has registered an estimated 36,000 individuals who had filed claims for the abuses they endured in defense of civil liberties and human rights during the Marcos dictatorship.

Further, we are optimistic that a Joint Resolution extending the period of filing for application of Martial Law claims is one-step away from its final approval. With this, we are assured that the hopes and opportunity of the thousands others, who have yet to apply for reparation and recognition, will not be blighted by the November 10 deadline.

However, even as we celebrate the victories in bringing justice and redress to victims, it is apparent that much needs to be done before “human rights for all” could be achieved and realized.

Facing the continuing challenges

In the past few years, we have witnessed an extraordinary spate of natural calamities in the country that led to an alarming spike in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. Without homes and decent source of income and livelihood, these victims of displacements become vulnerable and readily-exposed to famine, destitution, exploitation and abuses.

We are deeply concerned, therefore, and we, thus, urged Congress to swiftly pass the IDP bill that would protect and secure the rights and dignity of the IDPs who are being consistently robbed of their fundamental human rights to live with dignity.

We also urge the government to take further steps in addressing the rising number of extra-judicial killings. We call on the government to fully investigate, prosecute, and punish all cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions towards justice to the victims and accountability to their death.

At this juncture, we urge the President to use the remaining period of his term to establish a stronger human rights regime that puts the inherent dignity and worth of every Filipino in the front and center of the national agenda.

A key challenge for the government would be the passage of a legislation that would strengthen the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to better protect and promote, not just political and civil rights, but the multiple facets of human rights from socio-economic, gender, cultural and environmental rights.

We also look forward to the revival and formal adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP), a concrete government blueprint towards mainstreaming rights-based approach (RBA) in its policies and programs.

We also hope that the government will finally accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which will boost the implementation of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 or RA 10353.

In addition, we urge Congress to continue helping in the battle against the hideous practice of torture by immediately enacting pending bills creating the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), a monitoring body that the country should establish under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).

Rising together as a nation

Rising together, we also call on the members of civil society to join us in advancing a wide array of laws that will make certain that our children are protected from all forms of neglect and abuse, the elderly are given full access to health care and treatment, women are empowered and families are assured of their freedom of choice.

This is with the ultimate prayer that we, as a nation, will finally realize the principles and ideals set forth in our human rights laws and international commitments we made through the years.###