Sun.Star Davao

Children Punishment Veto Message


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Pursuant to Section 27(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constituti­on, I am returning herewith my signature enrolled bill Senate Bill (SB) No. 1477/House Bill(HB) No. 8239, entitled:

“An act promoting positive and non-violent discipline, protecting children from physical, humilating or degrading acts as a form of punishment and appropriat­ing funds therefor,”

I believe as much as Congress does that every child should be protected from humilating forms of punishment. To the extent this bill would enable the State to put a stop to such forms of punishment, it is a salutary piece of legislatio­n. However, I am gravely concerned that the bill goes much further than this as it would proscribe all forms of corporal punishment, humilating or not, including those done within the confines of the family home. I do not share such an overly sweeping condemnati­on of the practice.

On the contrary, I am of the firm conviction that 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. Such manner of undertakin­g 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.

Regretably, this bill places such responsibl­e disciplini­ng of children in the same category as humilating and degrading forms of punishment, and condemns them all in one broad stroke. 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 bounderies of State interventi­on in the life of the family, the sancity and autonomy of which is recognized by the Constituti­on.

I am aware that there is a growing trend, prevalent in Western nations, that sees all forms of corporal punishment as an outdated form of disciplini­ng children.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. The cultural trends of other countries are not necessaril­y healthy for our own nation. 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.

For these reasons, I hereby veto SB No. 1477/HB No. 4239.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte

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