Duterte vetoes 'anti-palo' bill on children

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte vetoes 'anti-palo' bill on children
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines held at the Manila Hotel on Feb. 26, 2019.
Simeon Celi / Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited parents from resorting to corporal punishment to discipline their children. 

The president vetoed the measure last February 23, documents released by Malacañang Thursday showed. 

The measure sought to promote "positive and non-violent discipline" and to protect children from physical, humiliating or degrading acts as a form of punishment. 

Acts prohibited by the bill include kicking, beating, and slapping and non-physical forms of violence like embarrassing a child in public and cursing. 

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In his veto message, Duterte said responsible parents can and have administered corporal punishment in a self-restrained manner, such that the children remember it not as "an act of hate or abuse" but "a loving act of discipline that desires only to uphold their welfare." 

"I believe as much as Congress does that every child should be protected from humiliating forms of punishment. It is a salutary piece of legislation," the president said. 

"However, I am gravely concerned that the bill goes much further than this act as it would proscribe all forms of corporal punishment, humiliating or not, including those done within the confines of the family home. I do not share such an overly sweeping condemnation of the practice," he added. 

Duterte said restrained corporal punishment has given rise to "beneficial results" for society, with "countless children having been raised up to become law-abiding citizens with a healthy respect for authority structures in the wider community." 

"Regrettably, this bill places such responsible disciplining of children in the same category as humiliating and degrading forms of punishment and condemns them all in one broad stroke," the president said. 

"Making no distinctions, the bill would allow government to extend its reach into the privacy of the family, authorizing measures aimed at suppressing corporal punishment regardless of how carefully it is practiced," he added.

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Duterte said the bill would transgress the proper boundaries of state intervention in the life of the family, whose sanctity and autonomy are recognized by the Constitution. 

Duterte said the Philippines should resist the growing trend prevalent in western nations that sees all forms of corporal punishment as an outdated form of disciplining children. He said cultural trends in other countries are not necessarily healthy to the Philippines. 

"I strongly believe that we should resist this trend in favor of a more balanced and nuanced approach, one that is both protective of the child as well as cognizant of the prerogatives of devoted parents who believe in the merits of corporal punishment rightly administered," the president said.  

"To uncritically follow the lead of these countries, especially in matters as significant as the family, would be a great disservice to the succeeding generations."



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