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UN Official: Philippine Law on Anti-Corporal Punishment could be First in Asia

Press Release
January 20, 2012

QUEZON CITY  –  The Anti-Corporal Punishment Bill recently passed in the House of Representatives but is still pending at the Senate could be first in the entire Asia, a visiting UN official said during her dialogue with children and the child rights advocates in Manila today.

According to Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Violence against Children, the proposed legislation could be first in the entire Asia should the Philippine Congress pass it this year.  During the event, Marta said that she is going to speak about her visit in the Philippines during the UN meeting on violence against children in Geneva set March this year.

“I will mention my visit in Manila and tell them that the Philippines is one of the most important countries where I had a dialogue with the children themselves and heard their recommendations on how to eliminate violence among them,” said Marta.

She added, “I will also tell them that a law on anti-corporal punishment has been passed in the House of Representatives but is still pending in the Senate.  I will also tell them that the bill needs to be passed as quickly as possible.”

House Bill 4455 titled “Promoting Positive Discipline of Children and Prohibiting Corporal Punishment Act” authored by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon Party List and Rep. Susan Yap of 2nd District of Tarlac was passed in 2011. The bill seeks to promote positive discipline techniques in all settings, including the home and institutions.

During the dialogue, children shared their situation and expressed their hope to be protected from all forms of abuse.  One participant, a street child, laments the kind of treatment they experience inside temporary shelters where they are placed after being “rescued.” He said that they are treated like criminals when they are not; they are restricted as if they are in jail and are not allowed to play like children do. To make matters worse, these shelter staff orders older children to physically punish the younger ones.

He said, “ang trato po sa amin ay parang ganon na rin sa mga matatandang nagkakasala na nakakulong.”

Meanwhile, the Child Rights Network (CRN), a coalition of non-government and civil society organizations expressed hope that that the consultation and the recommendations gathered from various sectors will reach the proper authorizes through the United Nations.

Ms. Wilma Bañaga, Child Protection Adviser of Save the Children, CRN member said, “we hope that these recommendations will not fall on deaf ears and that our lawmakers and the concerned agencies will seriously consider enacting laws, strictly implementing existing laws, and establishing mechanisms to eliminate violence against children.