UNICEF hails Congress for banning corporal punishment vs children

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15) — The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) hailed Congress for passing a bill banning corporal punishment against children.

"Last week, Congress passed a law on positive parenting and also protecting children from physical punishment in the home and so on. This is a really great step forward," UNICEF representative to the Philippines Lotta Sylwander told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday.

 

The House passed Monday on third and final reading House Bill No. 8239 or the Positive and Nonviolent Discipline of Children Bill which seeks to protect children from physical, humiliating or degrading acts as a form of punishment. The Senate passed its version in October.

READ: These are the countries where spanking is illegal

The bill will shield children from these forms of punishment in homes, schools, institutions, alternative care systems, the juvenile welfare system, places of religious worship and in all other settings where there is direct contact with children.

The measure does not impose additional penalties for harming children and instead mandates that the barangay chairman refer the offender and the offended party to mediation and reconciliation or recommend temporary restraining orders.

In case of repeat offenders, the barangay chairman should recommend the offender to undergo seminars on positive discipline, anger management and children's rights, counselling or therapy, or other rehabilitative services.

The measure would now be tackled by a bicameral conference committee consisting of members from both chambers of Congress, where they will thresh out the differences in the bills passed by the House and the Senate.

While the UNICEF praised the passage of this bill, it also warned that there are "threats" pending in the legislature, like the lowering of the age of criminal liability championed by Senate President Tito Sotto.

"The law (on the age of criminal liability) in place is actually a good law, but there are issues surrounding the implementation of the law," Sylwander said.

Sotto filed in September Senate Bill No. 2026 which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act to lower the age of criminal liability to 12 years old and one day from 15 years old.

Similar measures in the lower house have remained pending since 2016.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly assailed the juvenile justice law for increasing the age of criminal liability to 15 years old.