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Child rights group clarifies: No jail time for violators of Anti-Palo Bill

A children's rights group on Sunday clarified that violators will not face imprisonment under the Positive Discipline Bill or Anti-Palo Bill.

In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Save the Children officials said that the bill did not include imprisonment as sanction and clarified that only intervention will take place when the law is violated.

“Hindi sinasabi ng batas na ‘pag namalo ka, makukulong ka. Hindi naman ganun. Ang kailangan lang matulungan ang mga magulang,” said Child Rights Governance director Minerva Cabiles.

“Wala pong penalty clause na nakasaad sa batas. Pinalitan po natin siya ng salitang 'intervention,' kasi hindi po ito tinuturing na pagpaparusa kundi pagtatama,” added advocacy officer Reylynne De La Paz.

Violators will take seminars on positive discipline and anger management to educate them on alternative approaches to child discipline, Cabiles said.

“Halimbawa, kung nanakit ang mga magulang, so kailangan silang matulungan din through orientation sessions, learning session, training sa ibang pang mas effective na approaches in disciplining,” she said.

But for severe cases like hurting the child to the point of bruising, bleeding and bone fracture, Cabiles said that a different and existing laws should be applied and not the Anti-Palo.

“Ang mag-a-apply na dyan yung ating existing law, Republic Act 7610, yung ating Anti-Child Abuse Exploitation and Discrimination Act at tsaka yung Revised Penal Code kung applicable doon,” Cabiles said.

Non-violent discipline

Sponsored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, Senate Bill No. 1477 seeks to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence by prohibiting beating, kicking, slapping, lashing on any part of a child’s body, with or without the use of an instrument such as broom, cane, whip or belt.

Pulling a child’s hair, shaking, twisting of joints, cutting or piercing the skin, and dragging or throwing a child will also be prohibited. 

Also prohibited under the bill are forcing a child to perform physically painful or damaging acts such as squatting, standing or sitting in a contorted position, holding  weight or weights for an extended period, kneeling on stones, salt or pebbles as well as verbal abuse or assaults, including intimidation or threat or bodily harm, swearing or cursing, ridiculing or denigrating a child or making him look foolish in front of his peers or the public.

“This bill seeks to develop a comprehensive program to provide parents and those who exercise parental authority over children with adequate parenting tools and learning resources in employing a positive and non-violent way of disciplining children,” said Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.

The proposed legislation also seeks to prohibit the imprisonment of a child or exposure to substances that could cause discomfort or threaten the child’s health including fire, ice, water, smoke, pepper, alcohol or dangerous chemicals such as bleach or insecticides, excrement or urine and tying up a child and other similar acts.

Barangay level

In the dzBB interview, De La Paz said the process will start at the barangay level, with village officials assessing whether the Anti-Palo measure is violated in a case.

“Aaralin po ng barangay kung 'yun po bang sinumbong na act na kung sinuman, magulang, teacher or caregiver, kung papasok siya as physical humiliating punishment against children,” she said.

“Ibig sabihin may pag-assess, may pag-aaral muna. Hindi naman agad agad ay papatawan ng karampatang intervention,” De La Paz added.

She also said that the law promotes "restorative justice" that builds better relationship between the child and the parent. — Joviland Rita/BM, GMA News