Duterte vetoes "anti-palo" bill to discipline children
President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed the enrolled "anti-palo" bill that prohibits parents from beating their children and other corporal punishment to discipline their children.
In a veto message on February 23, Duterte cited his grave concern over the enrolled bill "An Act Promoting Positive and Nonviolent Discipline, Protecting Children from Physical, Humiliating or Degrading Acts as a Form of Punishment and Appropriating Funds Thereof."
"I believe as much as Congress does that every child should be protected from humiliating forms of punishment. To the extent that this bill would enable the State to put a stop to such forms of punishment, it is a salutary piece of legislation," he said in the veto message.
"However, I am gravely concerned that the bill goes much further than this as it would proscribe all forms of corporal punishment, humiliating or not, including those done within the confines of the family home," said Duterte, who admitted how he was disciplined by his late mother to the extent that he had to kneel for long hours in front of an image of a crucifix.
Duterte said he did not share "such an overly sweeping condemnation of the practice."
Duterte said he has a firm conviction that responsible parents could 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."
Duterte said the bill would be tantamount to government invading the privacy of the family.
"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. In so doing, the bill transgresses the proper boundaries of State intervention in the life of the family, the sanctity and autonomy of which is recognized by the Constitution," Duterte explained.
He also expressed belief the Philippines should not follow other Western nations that remove all forms of corporal punishment in disciplining their children.
"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," he said.
He believed cultural trends abroad apparently outdating all forms of corporal punishment in disciplining children are not necessarily healthy for the Philippines.
"Indeed, in many instances, such trends are of doubtful benefit even for the very countries which originated and popularized them. 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," he said.
The enrolled bill, which is principally sponsored by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, seeks to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence, such as beating, kicking, slapping or lashing on any part of a child's body.
Also prohibited under the bill were 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. Celerina Monte/DMS