Minors steal show in Senate hearing on punishment

Posted at 09/27/2012 9:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Minors stole the show Thursday at a hearing of bills in the Senate outlawing corporal punishment in the country.

Kimberly Grace Guilaran, 17, of the Youth Meets The Children organization, was in tears as she pleaded with Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the committee tackling the bill to pass the bill into law.

She enumerated the forms of corporal punishment that children suffer.

Guilaran later explained that she merely remembered the experience of her classmate who was the victim of corporal punishment.

Hanna Mae dela Cruz, 15, sectoral representative of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, and Thalea Manacho, 16, of the Children and Youth organization also lent their own voices of support for the bill.

Cayetano was moved by their statements and remarked, "mas magaling mag-explain ang mga bata."

Anjanette Saguisag, a child-protection specialist working with the anti-child trafficking project of Unicef, cited a study that showed that violent punishment is common but parents themselves find it unnecessary.

She said parents would adopt more positive forms of discipline if they are taught. She revealed that corporal punishment is accepted as a form of discipline in Asia.

The corporal punishment bill passed by the House of Representatives is the first of its kind in Asia.

Wilma Banaga, a child protection advisor, said the Philippines will be the 1st country to prohibit corporal punishment if the bill is passed into law. Only 23 countries in the world have similar legislation.

House Bill 4455 by Rep. Susan Yap will penalize with jail time people who care for children and commit the following acts:

- cruel and unusual punishment;
- an act that subject the child to indignities and other excessive chastisement that embarrasses or humiliates the child carried out to discipline, train or control;
- physical and humiliating or degrading punishment such as: blows, striking, pulling of hair, shaking, twisting joints, cutting/piercing of skins, dragging or throwing a child;
- forcing a child to perform physically painful or damaging acts;
- deliberate neglect of child's physical needs;
- use of or exposure to substances that can cause discomfort or threaten the child's health;
- Tying up;
- Imprisoning;
- Verbal abuse;
- Making a child look or feel foolish.

It has 4 counterpart bills in the Senate. Two are authored by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, one by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and one by Senator Manny Villar.